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Workers at 5 WNY nursing homes authorize 5-day strikes. Another 4 facilities just reached new labor deals

Buffalo News - 9/1/2022

Aug. 31—Health care labor union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East on Wednesday announced some good news in Western New York's nursing home industry and some potentially bad news, as well.

First, the good: More than 600 nursing home workers at four local McGuire Group facilities have ratified a three-year contract that runs through April 30, 2025.

That covers workers such as licensed practical nurses, certified nurse assistants and housekeepers at Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg, Garden Gate Health Care Facility in Cheektowaga, Northgate Health Care Facility in North Tonawanda and Seneca Health Care Facility in West Seneca.

Then, the potentially bad: Workers at another five Western New York nursing homes have voted to authorize five-day strikes at their facilities, though a strike has not yet been called.

If no agreement can be reached, the union said, workers at Elderwood at Lockport, Elderwood at Williamsville, Fiddler's Green Manor in Springville, Humboldt House Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Buffalo and Gowanda Nursing & Rehabilitation plan to hold five-day strikes "soon."

"To date, we have not received notice of 1199SEIU's intention to strike, and that scenario has not surfaced in recent negotiations," Elderwood said in a statement. "We remain fully committed to reaching an agreement on a contract that helps us to continue to reward the exceptional care our staff provides every day."

The four McGuire Group facilities with a new contract and the five nursing homes where a five-day strike could occur are part of a joint campaign announced earlier this year by 1199SEIU that involved more than 1,200 workers across 12 for-profit nursing homes in Western New York.

Of the original 12, three nursing homes — Ellicott Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Buffalo, Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing and Newfane Rehabilitation — reached agreements in July that included a $15-an-hour minimum wage, wage scales for experience and higher starting rates of pay across all titles. The remaining nine nursing homes held one-day strikes on July 12 and 13 in their push for new contracts.

The approved contract at the four McGuire Group facilities, the union said, includes a 10-step wage scale for all job titles, increased starting rates of pay for newly hired workers, retroactive bonus for all workers and additional raises for longtime caregivers. Workers will get a 3% pension increase each year of the agreement along with increased employer contributions to dental and optical. McGuire also agreed to Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

"I'm glad to finally be recognized for my seven years of dedication to Seneca Health Care with these new wages," Joseph Grotky, a dietary aide at the facility, said in a statement issued by the union. "I'm hopeful we'll see less turnover and better care for residents. This is the best contract I've ever seen."


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