Employees of the Seven Hills developmentally disabled care facilities in Rhode Island are striking today to call attention to what their union representative says is an unfair attempt by management to cut their pay. The proposed pay cuts, he said, are a direct result of losing $26 million in state funding in the current year budget.
“While we think what the employer is doing is wrong,” Jack Callici said, “The governor has completely turned his back on the developmentally disabled by not restoring one penny that was cut last year.”
He said the 250 union members he represents at the 17 Seven Hills facilities in Rhode Island and southeast Mass. have been asked to accept a 5 percent pay cut as well as a 10 percent increase health insurance costs.
“These are $10 an hour workers,” Callici said. “They can’t afford this. They will either reduce their coverage down, or drop it altogether.”
He said the budget cuts would be more easily absorbed by Seven Hills employees who have much higher pay grades. Noting that the union pay cuts would save about $100,000 and CEO David Jordan earned more than $500,000 in 2009, Callici said, “if that poor guy brought in just $400,000, it would pay for all the cuts.”
Seven Hills isn’t the only facility for the developmentally disabled in Rhode Island reeling from state budget cuts. Many facilities, according to Callici, have cut service to people with developmental disabilities from eight hours a day to six.
“Eight hours is important so people can go to work,” he said.
Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Care Workers union rep Jim Parisi said the Trudeau Center in Warwick has also cut service from eight to six hours. He said employees he represents there could have their hours reduced to part-time, which would “will cost them thousands if they have medical insurance.”