Contract Win Means Financial Gains and Nest Eggs for Nursing Assistants

December 31, 2014

Thanks to a newly ratified contract, the dedicated nursing assistants at Baltimore’s Springwell Senior Living Community—formerly known as The Wesley Home—have a chance to better care for their own futures.Earlier this month, 1199SEIU members voted strongly in favor of a five-year contract, which caregivers feel will offer greater financial stability and a shot at saving for retirement.The gains are significant: workers will see 12 percent in wage increases over the life of the contract, and increased evening and weekend shift differentials. The contract also immediately raises starting rates so all Union members at the facility will earn at least $10 an hour—$1.25 more than Maryland’s minimum wage will be after the state’s twenty-five cent increase on July 1, 2015.Part-time workers also won the opportunity to contribute to the facility’s company-matched 401(k), a critical benefit that was little-known throughout the shop and previously offered only to full-time workers. A special open enrollment period has been scheduled for July.GNA/CNT Danielle Lynch has worked at Springwell for six years and is looking forward to finally having a shot at building her nest egg. Lynch worked part-time at the facility for three years and was unaware of the company’s retirement benefit after transitioning to full-time “Having a retirement account will make me feel like more of a part of the company,” she says.But the retirement plan isn’t the only contract win that excites Lynch, who is the mother of a 12 year-old daughter. “The raises give me a better chance to have something to hold on to. I should be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment for my daughter and me. I’ll have a chance to get good transportation and move to a better part of town.”First-time bargaining committee member Paulette Livingston is also outspoken about the terms of the new contract. Workers at Springwell hadn’t received a raise in over a year, and had been feeling the pinch in their pockets.“We were able to win a lot in a short amount of time because we had a strong bargaining committee,” she says. “The raises are what I’m looking forward to the most, but for others it will be the 401(k). Lots of staff didn’t know about it. But when I found out, I wouldn’t stop running my mouth about it.”She smiles. “I’m an advocate. That’s what I do.”- See more at: