PresidentSEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
Matt Yarnell grew up in Central Pennsylvania and was raised in large part by his grandmother after his parents divorced when he was 5. Her influence played a pivotal part in shaping his value system and decision to dedicate his life to improving long term care.
At the age of 18, Matt began working at a local nursing home as a nurse aide with hopes of becoming a Registered Nurse which later turned into a desire to be a Funeral Home Director. But there, surrounded by caregivers dedicated to making their workplace better for themselves and their residents, Matt decided to get involved in the union instead. He learned that direct action through workplace organizing was the only way to improve workplace standards and advocate for better care for residents that often couldn’t speak for themselves. Matt also viewed the union as the only viable avenue to make social and economic change and an environment where everyone is treated equally, given his experience of being outed in High School.
He first became a Chapter President at University Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in State College at the age of 19 when his co-workers petitioned for him to be elected. At 20, Matt took a leave from his job to work as an Member Organizer for several weeks in Western Pennsylvania and eventually was hired as an organizer with the union for long term care in 2001 working in Western and Central Pennsylvania.
During his time, Matt has worked with thousands of nursing home workers to build strong chapters, and winning strong first contracts at the former Brighten nursing homes and leading several cycles of coordinated bargaining where thousands of nursing home workers improved their lives. He also helped to start up the SEIU Training and Education Fund that is now the second largest Nursing home fund in the country and is committed to expanding in the Hospital and Home care sectors. Matt has also serves as the chair of the SEIU Health and Welfare fund which provides high quality healthcare to thousands of nursing home workers across Pennsylvania, and just last year advocated for the inclusion of transgender benefits to members of the fund which became effective in January of 2016.
In 2005 he was elected as Vice President of long term care and in 2013 he became Executive Vice President. Since that time, Matt has lead our nursing home team through critical victories that has helped raise industry standards for thousands of nursing home workers, seniors and people with disabilities. Most recently, he helped lead groundbreaking contract negotiations that lead to nearly 5,000 nursing home workers achieving $15 an hour, secure healthcare benefits and access to training opportunities.
Now in his new role as president of SEIU Healthcare PA, Matt is proud to lead this very special local union, and understands that member leadership and action, innovation and organizational growth are all essential to expanding and strengthening our movement.
He is very excited to focus on fighting for a better long term living system that provides consumers the choice of where they receive care and ensures the delivery system provides high quality care and that the work force is respected, has training and advancement opportunities, and a living wage.
Matt is also committed to lifting up the SEIU Nurse Alliance of Pennsylvania as a critical and trusted voice for the nurses and caregivers in our healthcare delivery system who are on the front lines of healthcare transformation and the fight for safer staffing.
Additionally, the Hospital Workers Rising movement in Pittsburgh is critical to rebuilding the middle class in western PA and creating a fairer healthcare delivery system and economy that works for all. SEIU Healthcare PA will continue supporting workers efforts to organize at the largest and most powerful healthcare institution in Pennsylvania in order to create a brighter future for Pittsburgh.
Finally, Matt is eager to continue building upon the strategic partnerships with progressive organizations in Pennsylvania to lift all workers up, fight to dismantle structural racism, and build a permanent political progressive majority in Pennsylvania. Matt and his Husband, Scott, along with their two sons will be relocating to Harrisburg in the near future from Bellefonte Pennsylvania.