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‘Despite Its Pending Sale’ To Elderwood, Weinberg Campus Nursing Home Workers ‘Overwhelmingly Ratify’ New, Two-Year Contract - Caregivers Now The ‘Highest Paid’ Nursing Home Workers In WNY Pending Elderwood’s Approval Of Contract

Published Tuesday, December 28, 2021
by 1199 SEIU News
‘Despite Its Pending Sale’ To Elderwood, Weinberg Campus Nursing Home Workers ‘Overwhelmingly Ratify’ New, Two-Year Contract - Caregivers Now The ‘Highest Paid’ Nursing Home Workers In WNY Pending Elderwood’s Approval Of Contract

(GETZVILLE, NEW YORK) – Instead of picketing, more than 200 Nursing Home Workers represented by 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East who are employed at the Weinberg Campus in the Buffalo Suburb of Getzville, are celebrating a big victory this Holiday Season. 

Workers reached a new, two-year agreement with Weinberg Campus on Monday, December 13th - narrowly avoiding an informational picket that was scheduled for Wednesday, December 15th.  The contract runs through October 31st, 2023.

So instead of picketing, the Workers overwhelmingly ratified the agreement that includes significant wage increases - with a new wage scale for experience, improved pension contributions, higher starting rates, an additional paid Juneteenth holiday, 1199 SEIU Officials said.

The agreement also features wage increases averaging 23% in the first year of the contract - retro-active to November 1st, 2021.  Wage increases are an additional 3-4% in 2022. 

The wage increases make Weinberg Campus Workers the highest paid Unionized Nursing Home Caregivers in all of Western New York.

“The wage increase that we will receive is phenomenal and gives us a chance to bring in new quality people to help lighten our workload and so we can focus on providing quality care to our residents” said Toni Banks, a Housekeeper at Weinberg Campus for the past 11 years. “The Workers stood together and we won the highest wages in Western New York.  If you have a passion to work in this field, these wages are a door opener.”

The Unionized Caregivers at Weinberg Campus are employed Food Service Workers, Maintenance Workers, Cooks, Environmental Service Workers, Housekeeping, Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Personal Care Aides, Clerical Workers, Home Health Aides and Community Home Health Aides.

The agreement also provides increases in employer provided pension contributions. 

Workers won a 6% increase to their pension.

These improvements are considered a big win for part-time Workers who become eligible after working 750 hours, the Union said.

“Many of our Members (who are) nearing retirement age are very happy with the pension contributions,” Banks said. “(Management) really played hardball with us, but we stood our ground to get what we deserved!  Any increase was better than nothing, but this was a good increase and we are looking forward to 2022.”

New starting rates for LPNs is $24 an hour, CNAs start at $16.50 per hour and all service jobs - such as Cook, Environmental Services, Housekeeping, are all above $15 an hour, Union Officials said

“These rates will get new people to come in, the old rate wasn’t competitive,” Timothy Hicks, a Maintenance Technician employed at the Weinberg Campus for the past nine years, said.

“This is a huge jump in pay, since we were earning well below what a Maintenance Technician would earn per hour.  Now we can continue to provide quality services for our residents in their homes, but also provide better for our families,” he said.

Over the course of time, the Weinberg Campus Caregivers participated in several job actions inside and out of the facility in their fight for a fair contract that they maintained would help to recruit and retain Workers in order to provide quality care for the residents.

The Union Members participated in press conferences, sticker days and phone banking, and held a March on the Boss to deliver their notice to management to hold an informational picket.   

“It’s been a long time coming and now these Workers have some sense of security for the next two years, including excellent wages and benefits,” 1199 SEIU Organizer Darlene Gates said.

“These wages set a standard for Union Health Care Workers in our area.  These dedicated Nursing Home Workers stood up to fight for what they deserved, and they won big!  When Workers stand together and speak up, they are unstoppable.  This victory gives Workers security for the next two years while the sale of the home is still pending.   It’s a wonderful way for everyone to celebrate this holiday season,” Gates said.

The sale of Weinberg Campus to Elderwood is still pending.

Despite Union Members ratifying the agreement, Elderwood management must approve it before wage rates go into effect.

“We’re hopeful Elderwood will do the right thing and approve the agreement so Workers can get their raises during the Holiday Season,” Gates said. 

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East - whose mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all, is the largest and fastest-growing Health Care Union in the United States, representing more than 400,000 Nurses and Caregivers throughout the States of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida, and in Washington, D.C.

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