Medical Resources Caregivers Secure Fair Wages, Equal Treatment Under New Contract!

July 26, 2016

Hundreds of healthcare workers at Medical Resources Home Health Corp. have reached a tentative agreement with executives to secure the first contract at the company and the first contract with a private homecare provider in Massachusetts since the 2005 merger creating the current configuration of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The new two-year contract creates a wage scale at Medical Resources that ensures workers will be compensated for their experience and maintains consumers’ choice for their care. It will also address pay iniquities that resulted in some new employees earning a higher wage rate than employees who had worked at Medical Resources for two decades.

Under the contract, some employees will receive a raise of more than $2 an hour – equaling more than $10,000 over two years for a fulltime worker. Every employee will receive an immediate minimum wage increase of at least $.99 cents/hour, with some raises as high as $2.52 an hour. Workers will vote to ratify the new contract in the coming weeks.

The contract also gives Medical Resources workers access to the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund. Founded in 2006, the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund is a joint labor-management partnership between 1199SEIU and local participating health providers that enhances patient care and helps thousands of workers access new training and post-secondary certificate or degree programs.

“This first contract provides workers at Medical Resources a much-needed wage boost, access to new training opportunities and other essential benefits that will enhance care and improve the lives of these dedicated caregivers,” said Tyrék D. Lee, Sr., Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “For years, healthcare workers at Medical Resources have delivered quality patient care, and we are proud to share this important victory.”

Last year, homecare workers from Medical Resources voted to organize and join 1199SEIU. A bargaining committee for the company’s 250 private homecare agency workers – many of them Chinese and Latino – spent the past year analyzing documents and negotiating with executives.

Workers negotiated the contract across three different languages, securing a number of new benefits for a workforce that had been mistreated in the past. Workers will soon receive at least five days of paid time off – made possible by converting the right to state-mandated earned sick time to paid time off so that it can be used for any reason.

"It’s been a long process since we started this campaign in 2013. While more work remains, this contract is a major victory,” said Ling Zhu Cao, a worker at Medical Resources and a member of the bargaining unit. “Workers fought together and now have respect and dignity. We’re particularly proud that many immigrant workers led the way and helped employees win their first union contract with a private homecare agency. It’s a great day, and we could not have done this without the support of the Chinese Progressive Association, our community and our clients.”

Employees will also begin receiving compensation for both their travel time to and waiting time between appointments – which had previously been provided only through stipends that fell far below the required wages that employees deserve for their on-the-job travel and waiting time.

“For a long time, we fought for the same care, dedication and respect from management that we provide our clients,” said Kirsis Nina, who has worked at Medical Resources for ten years and led recent contract organizing efforts. “This contract with Medical Resources is a tremendous win not only for all workers, but also for our clients who depend on us for quality care. With the new training opportunities that will be available to us, we can continue developing the important professional skills we need to provide the excellent care our clients deserve.”

The agreement is among a series of successes for 1199SEIU, which over the past year has secured pathways to $15 an hour for healthcare workers at Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess-Plymouth, and for the state’s 35,000 Personal Care Attendants.

In the News:

7/26/16, WWLP-22News: "Contract accord reached for 250 homecare workers"
7/27/16, Boston Business Journal: "Newly unionized workers at Newton-based home health agency secure raises"