Nursing Home Workers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ratify Their First Collective Bargaining Agreement

This afternoon, more than 140 nursing home workers at Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scotia, NY, members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, voted to ratify their first union contract.  After two years of sometimes tense negotiations, a Federal Mediator was asked to come to the bargaining table.  Both the union and management say the mediator provided the support needed to bring negotiations to a close.

The contract includes significant wages increases and bonuses across the board for members of the bargaining unit; CNAs, activities and transportation aides, housekeeping, maintenance, utility and laundry workers, porters and ward clerks.  It also provides health benefits with a reduction in employee premium costs.

Mike Zyskowski, a CNA at the nursing home for more than a decade, and a member of the 1199 Negotiating Committee said, “We are pleased and relieved that we were finally able to reach an agreement with management.  I think we achieved our major goals.  We have a contract that will improve staffing and continuity of care and enrich overall quality care. And we have a contract that will allow us to better take care of our own families, at the same time we take care of others.”  

“It was a long and, at times, challenging process,” said Timothy Bartos, Baptist’s President/CEO, “but we were able to come to a fair agreement that will benefit our hard-working, dedicated employees.  We’re thrilled to be able to now provide the very generous raises we offered.  They will bolster staffing and the tremendous care we provide.  We are also very pleased with the flexibility Baptist has achieved through this agreement to more nimbly adapt to an ever-changing, competitive healthcare industry.  We look forward to working with 1199SEIU to build on the excellent reputation for care that Baptist has long been known for.”

Petronella Jones, a longtime Baptist employee who helped organize the union and is also a negotiating committee member said, “A two-dollar an hour raise and more affordable health benefits will go a long way in helping me, and my co-workers make ends meets at home. This is a great start. We are so happy to finally have a legally-binding contract and hope that these improvements will help bring new workers to our Baptist team and reduce staff turnover.”

In addition to better wages and benefits, the contract includes procedures for settling workplace disagreements, guaranteed hours of work, and increased overtime pay.  Workers say one of the more important parts of the contract ensures that regular staff are offered overtime work before temporary agency staff.

1199 Negotiating Committee member, Faith Gregory said, “It’s significant that we were able to keep what we had, for instance our paid time off, our best past practices are still in place, such as shift and recognition bonuses and we also made really good improvements.  I’m looking forward to working together toward what we all want most—to provide the best possible quality care to our residents.”

The contract takes effect upon ratification, today, December 1, 2017 and expires on November 30, 2020

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation is a not-for-profit, faith-based organization providing skilled nursing and subacute rehabilitation services to the elderly in Scotia, New York and the surrounding communities. Now in its 40th year, its mission is to serve all persons with quality care in a loving and compassionate environment.”