Nursing homes reach labor deal with 1199SEIU

December 21, 2018

Crain's Health Pulse

Two major bargaining groups of metro-area nursing homes each reached a contract with 1199SEIU, agreeing to wage increases for 30,000 workers combined.

The Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association and the National Benefit Fund Group of 65, which both negotiate on behalf of nursing homes, each reached a three-year contract, granting 3% raises annually for the duration.

The union represents workers including nurses, nursing assistants, clerical staff, food-service workers and housekeepers. The contract protects health benefits, 1199SEIU said.

For workers covered by the Greater New York contract, certain employees who had not been earning a "master rate" paid to their peers will now be compensated on the same pay scale.

After the state said earlier this year it would increase the operating component of their Medicaid reimbursement rates, nursing homes felt more comfortable agreeing to the wage-parity provision, which was a top union priority, said Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association.

"It's the first time in a very long time that there was this kind of support from the state," he said. "It meant a great deal to these negotiations."

Management got certain concessions, including changes to how paid sick leave is funded and a provision requiring employees responsible for working every other weekend to make up missed time. The nursing homes also can revisit the wage increases with the union if their reimbursement changes.

"If the state were to do massive cuts, homes could say, 'This contract is not affordable' and can come back to the table," Balboni said.