By: Susan Haigh for The Bulletin May 14, 2021
Unionized nursing home workers agreed to postpone strikes planned for Friday at 26 facilities across Connecticut after Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration reached an agreement with union leaders and nursing homes operators that includes $267 million in state funds to help pay for historic wage increases.
The workers including nurses, nurses aides, housekeeping staff and laundry workers have threatened to walk out over what they call poverty-level wages and dangerously low staffing levels.
Lamont announced during a COVID-19 briefing with reporters Thursday afternoon that his administration had reached a “basic agreement” with the nursing home operators and the union. While the state is not a party to the talks, it plays a crucial role because it provides the bulk of nursing home revenues through Medicaid payments.
“It’s a good deal. It’s a good deal for the front-line nurses, the biggest increase they’ve gotten in many a year,” Lamont said. “I think it shows we’re keeping faith with the folks who are taking care of our parents and grandparents.”
District 1199 New England, SEIU, announced it has already reached a tentative four-year contract with iCare Health Network, owner of 11 of the homes, that will set a $20 hourly minimum wage for certified nursing assistants and a $30 hourly minimum wage for licensed practiced nurses.