In February Blackstone Valley Community Health Care employees organized a picket in hopes of winning a better wage and working conditions in contract negotiations. One month later the SEIU1199 nurses, assistants, hygienists and others are celebrating their new contract which they accepted today by a unanimous vote today, winning their largest pay increase since organizing a labor union in 2004.
“We were inspired to see fast food workers from around the country fighting for $15 an hour. We thought, if they can go for it, we can too,” said Maria Zigas, a patient information coordinator at BVCHC. “So we stood together and we won a really great contract so that we can provide for our families with dignified wages. Every worker should join the Fight for $15.”
According to an SEIU press release, “the vast majority of employees to over $15/hour by January 2017, as well dramatically reducing the cost of family health care for the lowest paid workers.”
The BVCHC employees also negotiated for tuition assistance, increased power in creating their own schedules and more flexibility in using sick days.
BVCHC has been expanding recently, capitalizing on the increase in business the health care provider has received under Obamacare. To meet demand the company has constructed of a new building in downtown Pawtucket for nearly $7 million and purchased another building for $1.4 million in late 2014. The number of patients served by the company has increased to over 15,000.