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Group home workers call off strike after late-night deal

June 4, 2021 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A strike of more than 2,100 Connecticut group home workers planned for Friday has been called off after a late-night agreement for higher wages and improved benefits was reached with the help of state officials, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The union representing workers at 200 group homes caring for people with developmental disabilities filed strike withdrawal notices with the state late Thursday night, Lamont said.

Union officials said the tentative, two-year-deal includes a $184 million increase in state aid, mostly through Medicaid funding, to group homes over the next two years. Contracts still have to be negotiated with the six operators of the groups homes — Journey Found, Mosaic, Network, Oak Hill, Sunrise, and Whole Life.

The extra funding would allow the operators to increase the minimum wage of workers from the current $14.75 an hour to $16.50 by July 1 and to $17.25 by July 1, 2022, said Pedro Zayas, a spokesperson for the SEIU District 1199 New England union. He said a significant number of union members are making the minimum wage or close to the minimum and have to work other jobs to support themselves and their families.

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The additional aid also would provide pensions to workers at the three of the operators who currently do not have pensions, and lower health insurance costs for workers, Zayas said.

The group homes already had relocated many residents and hired replacement workers in preparation for the strike.

The Democratic governor’s administration also helped prevent a strike planned last month by District 1199 nursing home workers around the state with a $267 million package to help pay for historic wage increases.