Around Our Regions: Workers at McGuire Group Ratify ContractJanuary 11, 2021
1199SEIU members at four Buffalo area nursing homes owned by the McGuire Group last September ratified a new, one-and-a-half year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that includes wage increases of 4%, a first time shift differential for third shift, and increased starting wages for all departments (including additional increases based on years of service).
The agreement came after five months of negotiations and covers some 900 workers who are employed at Western New York’s largest nursing home chain. With its one-and-a-halfyear duration, the contract also takes another step in the broader Union strategy of coordinating contracts to build workers’ power across industries.
Patricia Meckes, an LPN at Autumn View Manor, in Hamburg, NY, said COVID-19 intensified negotiations and highlighted the importance of also settling an agreement that included fair compensation and recognition of workers’ sacrifice and critical roles on the front lines of the pandemic.
“We don’t know what the future holds for us since we can’t predict if a second or third wave of the virus will hit – or whether there’s a new strain or any other possibility; but we do know that if we don’t find a way to make employees feel appreciated for the ever increasingly difficult work they do, we won’t have anyone left to care for our residents,” said Meckes.
She also noted that the virus has changed this industry and exacerbated pre-existing issues like staff retention.
“It’s not going to get any easier to find people who want to do the jobs we do,” said Meckes. “So we must work together to figure out how we can continue to see McGuire thrive.”
McGuire workers also negotiated COVID Appreciation Pay bonuses for all hours worked by all employees during March 1 through June 27, when the virus was at its worst. The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ensures that all McGuire workers will receive appreciation pay—something every one of them deserves,” said Tina Frain, CNA at North Gate Manor in North Tonawanda.
“We saw our co-workers fall ill because of it,” said Frain. “And we were the ones who had to console residents who were confused and depressed because they couldn’t see their loved ones.”
Madonna Krah, a cook for 40 years at Seneca Care in West Seneca, said the agreement was about more than money. “All essential workers should be essentially respected,” said Krah.
“Starting wages have increased in all departments. An appreciation bonus was given to all union employees during the most crucial time of this pandemic. Our voices were heard.”
McGuire workers also won weekend “pick up” bonuses, increased pension contributions, and a less restrictive new uniform policy “These workers are heroes,” said 1199 Nursing Home Division VP Todd Hobler. “This contract demonstrates that they deserve to be respected and compensated in a way that allows them to care for themselves and their families in the same way they care for their patients.”