Congratulations to our 37 newest members at Avamere Twin Oaks nursing home in Sweet Home, who just ratified their first contract June 20! The Bargaining Team of Kristy Meacham, Stacy Nelson, Danette Baxter led their co-workers and helped to bring things to a satisfactory agreement. There are now 36 SEIU Union nursing home facilities in Oregon, including Twin Oaks.
With the overall economy lagging, home census down, Medicaid rates flat and Medicare rates in decline, the team had to make some tough decisions. In the end, they were proud of this first contract, which moved the wage scale above minimum wage, brought the CNA start to more than $10/hr., and won what they had for healthcare in the “master contract.” This was a desperately needed improvement as only a little more than half of the nursing home workers opt in to employer healthcare because of the barriers of low wages and high cost.
“We have come a long way with Avamere during our bargaining,” said Kristy Meacham, a Dietary worker at Twin Oaks. “Even though we may have not gotten everything we wanted right now, we did get some great things. For starters, one of the most important things is better insurance, not only a new pay scale. Our pay scale moving up to be closer to other union buildings is a big step in the right direction.”
Other contract features include longevity bonuses based on years of service, extra shift bonuses, shift differentials, additional paid time off for long-time employees and some tuition reimbursement and continuing education benefits for qualified full-time employees. The unit will also be electing their own representatives to meet with management on a monthly basis to discuss workplace issues and concerns and seek fair resolutions.
The workers at Avamere Twin Oaks had been trying to unionize since 2006 and finally succeeded in March of this year.