Nursing home industry demands higher wages, more patient care

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As all eyes are on Detroit for the Democratic debate Tuesday and Wednesday, folks with the largest union of nursing home workers in the state, SEIU Healthcare Michigan, used that spotlight to voice their concerns dangerously short staffing issues and poverty wages.

"It's hard to go to work and not know if you have enough staff," said Trece Andrews, a nursing home employee. "It's hard to face the residents daily because they need our help. It's all about the residents really."

Fast food employees and security guards are joining the fight as well.

"I take home between $400 and $500 a month working at McDonald's," said Jamika Ruffin. "I have two beautiful children at home and we are barely surviving in the wages that McDonald's pays me."

With 73,000 cases of elder abuse each year, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel traveled across the state and stopped by Tuesday after launching a payroll fraud task force and an elder abuse task force.

"When these facilities are understaffed and employees underpaid, that creates situations where you have neglect of seniors," Nessel said. 

Everyone there is asking presidential candidates to put working people front and center.

"We want presidential candidates to wake up every day and figure out what they are going to do to make it possible for millions of workers to have a better life," said Mary Kay Henry, the SEIU International president.

"We are shouting out, we are doing everything we can to get some politicians in office to hear us now," Andrews said.

The fight for change continues Wednesday, as security workers from across Michigan and the Midwest plan to rally in downtown Detroit.