Strike averted as union representing CT group-home workers reaches wage deal with governor

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A settlement has been reached between the union that represents group home workers and the Governor of Connecticut late Thursday, which means there will no longer be a workers’ strike Friday.

Governor Ned Lamont and SEIU District 1199 New England reached a two-year deal worth $184-million.

“This is an important agreement which represents my administration’s commitment to respecting the collective bargaining and negotiation process, while also ensuring those in the care of these homes are receiving the services they need,” Governor Lamont said. “This agreement is a positive step forward for the workers as they will receive pay increases and more support. I thank SEIU and the industry leaders for working collaboratively with our administration to reach this agreement.”

The Union had been pushing for funding so group home workers can reach a standard of $20 an hour with health care and retirement for all.

The CEO and President of Oak Hill Barry Simon sent a statement to News 8 Friday morning after an agreement was made, which said,

“We appreciate the deal reached by the Governor and Union leadership. This will allow us to facilitate the return of our participants to their homes and our students to their classrooms. It will also allow us to bargain in good faith to settle the contract with our employees. I appreciate all of the work, effort, energy, and emotion that went into the preparation for the continuity of care and services for our participants and students.”

Barry Simon, President & CEO, Oak Hill 

Before a settlement was reached, Simon decided Thursday evening to move all Oak Hill patients to nursing homes, just in case the time to negotiate ran out.

Karen Neag ended up pulling her daughter out of a group home Thursday evening in anticipation of the possible strike. She said her daughter would have been one of six people being cared for by only three non-union workers. Neag said caretakers deserve a decent wage for all of their hard work. She said the program her daughter is in is a good one.

Neag said, “My concern is that after all of this is that we won’t find people who won’t want to come back to work with our kids. We need to make this a job that’s honorable as well as sustainable to their lifestyles of their direct care providers.”

Group home workers did hold a rally at the capitol earlier this week calling for the higher wages and benefits as negotiations continued throughout the week.

“We believe this additional funding will resolve the open contracts. We have made substantial
progress toward our goals for a $20 minimum wage, with major progress on retirement and other
benefits,” said Rob Baril, president of District 1199 New England, SEIU. “This is a great victory
for racial and economic justice for the majority of Black and Latina women who make up this
workforce of caregivers. All strike notices have been immediately withdrawn.”

The 2,100 impacted caregivers will no longer be striking at the state capitol Friday morning.

This funding agreement impacts group home workers for Oak Hill, Whole Life, Sunrise, Network,
Mosaic and Journey Found. The Union said this is the second major settlement for long-term care workers in Connecticut in the past month. They said that over 4,000 union nursing home workers negotiated new contracts with higher wages and benefits.

The agreement comes as Governor Lamont is trying to hammer out a new state budget for the legislature.

“We’ve gotta have a budget that includes money for the group homes that’s the nature of a balanced budget and we’ve got a plan in place to do that,” said Gov. Lamont Thursday.

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

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