After Strike Vote Green Valley Workers Win Strong Contract

 

MSEA-SEIU 1989 members at Green Valley Association last week ratified a new contract that provides pay increases and much better working conditions. The Island Falls-based agency provides group home support services to people with developmental disabilities. However, workers have long struggled as the wage scale was so broken that workers with years of experience barely made more than new hires. And due to poor retention and recruitment, management implemented an abusive scheduling system that mandated part-time and relief workers to take up to 40 hours of shifts per week. 

While the company initially agreed to wage improvements, it refused to budge on scheduling changes. Nearly 90 percent of the workers voted to reject the agency’s offer, authorized a strike and sent the bargaining team back to the table to keep fighting for a better contract. Previously, a minority of the Green Valley workers were members of the union, but once they began banding together, they realized the strength of their own collective power and the bargaining unit surged to a near super-majority membership.  

 Their courage and persistence paid off with a new contract that:

  • Adds three more steps to the wage scale in the first eight years of employment.
  • Provides two pay raises of between 4 and 6 percent this year
  • Reduces the number of hours relief and part-time workers must be available to work from 40 to 20 hours a week and prioritizes workers doing voluntary overtime to fill staffing slots.
  • Creates a new joint accountability structure between workers and management around staff recruitment.

“People are really excited. This contract was about having power over one’s own life and their quality of life,” said Angela MacWhinnie, an organizer with MSEA-SEIU 1989. “Management got the message loud and clear how serious and unified the workers were and that absolutely made the difference in changing the power dynamic so they could get the contract that they wanted.”