Tentative agreement reached for Downstate Nursing Home members in Contract ReopenerJune 16, 2023
Contracts at the Greater New York and Group of 65 nursing homes are being reopened.
The last time nursing home members in downstate New York were at the bargaining table, the pandemic was still raging and emotions around losing residents, co-workers and family members were still very raw. Negotiations began in August 2021, and employers hardly budged for months. It took until November 29, for an agreement to be reached less than 48 hours before members were planning to strike the institutions. Thousands of members marched on Times Square a few weeks before the settlement in a massive rally and show of strength.
A lot has happened since that settlement between roughly 33,000 Union nursing home members and management at the Greater New York (GNY) and “Group of 65” homes. The pandemic may have subsided, but its longterm effects are still very much being felt—particularly when it comes to staffing levels.
Earlier this year, the roughly 90,000 1199ers who work at institutions which belong to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes were able to negotiate pay increases of 7, 6 and 5 percent over three years. Nursing home members in GNY and Group homes are committed to achieving parity with their League colleagues.
As this edition of the 1199 Magazine went to press, members at GNY and Group homes were due to reopen their contract and begin negotiating a new settlement on June 6.
“The cost of living is going up and up,” says Lynette Brown-Roberts, a Dietary member at the Horizon Care Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. “And if our paycheck can’t meet it, how can we survive? We are working so hard and our salaries do not reflect that. Sometimes, you are working three jobs because we are so short-staffed. But you only get one paycheck.
“It is getting to be harder and harder to find people who will work for the pay we are getting. It is easier to go off and work for Uber and take a vacation any time you want.”
Michael Guevarez is an 1199 Delegate and Recreational Leader at the Seagate Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Brooklyn. In March, he took part in a non-violent act of civil disobedience to highlight that New York State Governor Kathy Hochul is not doing enough to “Close the Medicaid Gap” and budget for badly-needed increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates. Together with 1199SEIU President George Gresham, fellow members, Union officers and community allies, they stopped traffic during rush hour in a sit-down protest outside the governor’s New York City office.
“I believe that we were willing to be arrested for what we believe made an impression on the state’s legislators,” Guevarez said.
In the final NYS budget, an increase to Medicaid rates for nursing homes was agreed, which amounts to roughly four percent when existing staffing monies are taken into account.