Tentative agreement reached under increasing pressure on the agency to avoid strike
LAWRENCE — In a major step toward addressing the low wages and staff turnover plaguing Fidelity House staff at the agency who directly care for individuals with disabilities reached a settlement early Sunday afternoon with Fidelity House management. Facing a strike that was set to begin in less than 24 hours, management at Fidelity House returned to the table Sunday morning for a negotiation session overseen by a federal mediator. The resulting settlement is subject to a ratification vote next week by affected Fidelity House workers, who will return to work on Monday.
Today’s settlement is a step forward in a years-long campaign by Fidelity House workers, organized through SEIU Local 509, to address the crisis in caregiving created by low wages at the agency. The tentative agreement will result in a $.60/hour raise for direct care staff over the course of the one year contract, a significant raise for workers at Fidelity House,Inc. who have worked and organized tirelessly to gain this win for frontline direct care workers.
“What I do for a living isn’t just about me, it’s also about all the individuals we serve here in the Merrimack Valley,” said Nurys Cintron, a worker at Fidelity House and leader of the contract bargaining committee. “I’m relieved that after many months and a long morning of bargaining, all of my colleagues will return to work Monday with a better contract that will hopefully pave the path for all our brothers and sisters in the human services field.”
“Today we got a good contract but the work continues,” said Alette Domenech, who has worked at Fidelity House for three years. “I look forward to the roll out of these much-needed improvements in our contract.”
Workers had provided management with the legally required 10-day strike notice on July 24th, while continuing to try to bargain in good faith with management in the days leading up to the strike. Today’s settlement comes after an outpouring of support for quality care and good jobs at Fidelity House from community groups and elected officials, including Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Representatives DiZoglio, Matias, Moran, and State Senator Barbara L’Italien.