New contract gives CT group home workers big win with higher wages, lower health insurance costs

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Group home workers at a Connecticut agency are no longer going on strike after settling a new contract with their employer.

New England Health Care Employees Union canceled a strike planned for Oct. 5 after settling a new contract with Network Inc.

They were pushing for better wages and better insurance premiums.

Many said they have been paying more than $1,000 bi-weekly for health insurance while some were getting paid less than $20 an hour. 

Now, Network Inc. will cover 70-90% of the insurance premiums, add more money to workers’ insurance benefits packages and minimum wage is going from $14.75 to $17.25 an hour.

“This really was about working-class women, white, black and brown, standing up, standing together and saying that they and their children and their partners and their clients are worth more,” said District 1199 SEIU President Rob Baril.

Group home workers Sherry Nash and Evon Dimmett commented on the hardships they have faced at work.  
“I know what it’s like to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my son and have to walk away without getting the prescription because I don’t make enough to cover both the premiums and the prescription,” Nash said.

“For working in this field for 35 years, we barely scramble by. I have to work four jobs to make ends meet so finally we’re getting a little recognition,” Dimmett said.

However, two new strike notices were issued Wednesday by the Union for Sunrise and Alternative Services group home agencies. 

They have plans to strike on Oct. 5 if demands are not met at either facility. 

All these changes go into effect in July of next year. 

The union said group homes are still facing staffing shortages and are hoping these changes attract more people to work in healthcare.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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