Connecticut group home workers end strike but continue struggle against poverty
Striking group home and day program workers at the State Capitol in Hartford. | via SEIU 1199NE

HARTFORD, Conn.—While their struggle to end poverty continues, group home and day program members of SEIU 1199NE agreed to new contracts at six agencies, ending a weeks-long strike.

The new contracts cover the next two years, starting on July 1, 2023, with an option to reopen negotiations after the first year. Direct care providers will receive raises of $1.25-an-hour or more in the first year.

“We have achieved agreements that we are proud of with the six agencies. In some cases, folks are getting long overdue seniority raises up to 14% at some agencies,” said union President Rob Baril.

“We know that the struggle to end poverty for long-term caregivers must continue. But the real victory is that our leaders and workers clearly understand that we are leading a movement that will eventually lift all long-term care and essential workers out of poverty.”

Baril pointed out that “with more than a decade of austerity budgets, Medicaid services for individuals with disabilities were underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars since 2008.”

The contract demands were connected to the state budget fight. Through the Recovery for All coalition, the workers received solidarity support from the 70 member organizations including CT AFL-CIO unions, community, and faith-based organizations.

A rally of 2,000 at the State Capitol in May featured teachers, para educators and students in public education, health care workers, racial justice groups, and immigrant organizations, all pledging to support each other’s budget needs and calling for emergency action to circumvent the constitutional spending cap and to tax the rich.

To emphasize the urgency of their situation, 57 workers participated in a civil disobedience action blocking the street outside the State Capitol. Tents were set up on the Capitol lawn to dramatize the reality that some caregivers are forced to sleep in their cars, unable to afford rent on their meager wages.

These actions pushed the budget negotiations. The adopted state budget included $150 million in additional Medicaid funds for group home and day program providers. The funds were added on to the budget bill during SEIU 1199NE’s strike against poverty at the State Capitol.

The biennial budget also included $50 million in bonding to repair and improve facilities at group home and day program agencies.

Over 1,700 group home and day program caregivers began striking on Wednesday, May 24, at six agencies that provide services for 1,500 individuals with disabilities: Oak Hill, Mosaic, Whole Life, Network, Caring Community, and Alternative Services, Inc.

“We are thankful for the state leaders that fought with us for the funding necessary to achieve economic justice in this vital healthcare sector,” said Baril.

“Clients and workers deserve so much more. Government has the responsibility to do so much more. This forces our movement for living wages to come back stronger to raise standards for publicly funded workers. Our fight to end poverty for long-term care providers continues,” he emphasized.

The long-term caregivers will continue to fight for a pathway to $25-per-hour minimum wage, affordable healthcare, and funding for retirement after decades of service.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


Joelle Fishman
Joelle Fishman

Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is an active member of many local economic rights and social justice organizations. As chair of the national CPUSA Political Action Commission, she plays an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights, and peace. Joelle Fishman preside el Partido Comunista de Connecticut USA. Es miembro activo de muchas organizaciones locales de derechos económicos y justicia social. Como presidenta de la Comisión Nacional de Acción Política del CPUSA, desempeña un papel activo en la amplia alianza laboral y popular y continúa movilizándose por la atención médica, los derechos de los trabajadores y la paz.