BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) — More than a thousand union group home workers walked off the job Wednesday morning, demanding a new contract that includes better pay.

As the governor and state lawmakers get closer to the deadline on budget negotiations, about 1,200 unionized group home workers walked off the job at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.

SEIU District 1199NE, the New England Health Care Employees Union, represents over 25,000 caregivers in Connecticut and about 4,000 in Rhode Island. The union said that most of its workers have been without a contract for about three weeks and are demanding what they call “living wages,” affordable health insurance and better retirement benefits.

The strike impacts nine group homes within the Oak Hill, Mosaic, Whole Life, Network, Caring Community, and Alternative Services, Inc. agencies in Hartford, Bristol, Waterbury, Bridgeport, Norwich, New London, Andover, Colchester, and Dayville.

“What is a two-cent raise going to do for me? It’s not that I don’t want to be there for my individuals, but what is two-cent raise going to do for and the predicament I find myself in,” said Michelle Palmer, a group home employee for New England Health Care.

The Department of Developmental Services said families that could be affected by a strike have been given notice. While they won’t talk about the negotiations, they say they are hopeful the matter will be resolved soon.

“Since being notified of a potential strike of 1199 members at some of our provider locations, the Departments of Developmental Services (DDS) and Public Health (DPH) have been working with providers, families, and staff to ensure the health and safety of the individuals we support,” said Kevin Bronson, DDS spokesperson. “These agencies will be conducting residential site monitoring at provider locations to confirm that individuals are receiving the appropriate level of care. All individuals and families impacted by the strike were contacted last week and continue to be made aware of providers’ plans to manage operations. While we cannot comment on the status of current contract negotiations between the union and private providers, we are hopeful this matter will be resolved soon.”