Union workers win large concessions despite Beaumont anti-union tactics
Taylor, MI – Yesterday, union workers from SEIU Healthcare Michigan reached an agreement with Beaumont Health over contract negotiations that have been ongoing for the past 18 months. The new contract will provide a raise for nearly a thousand union workers which include service employees, maintenance workers, housekeeping workers, dietary aids, CNAs and patient sitters.
The agreement caps five years without wage increases for workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Michigan under the collective bargaining agreement. Employee classes included in the original contract will receive a 2 percent lump-sum raise this year and a 5 percent raise over the next 3 years. Patient sitters, who were not included in the original contract, were added as a classification under collective bargaining in the new contract; they will receive a pay raise from $9.25/hour to $12/hour. Patient sitters will also receive some additional benefits including 4 additional PTO days and overtime with guaranteed hours for their status.
Ken Haney, Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, touted the unwavering resilience of workers during the challenging negotiations.
“This victory could not have been achieved without dedication and strength of our union workers.” said Ken Haney, Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, “Our workers refused to give-in, despite negotiations dragging on for many months.”
Over the past 6 months, workers organized, rallied, and protested in response to Beaumont executives who refused to budge in negotiations. Beaumont officials also distributed flyers claiming that SEIU members did not deserve wages and benefit increases to keep up with the cost of living and did not bargain in good faith as a tactic to discourage workers from joining the union. During this time period, it was also revealed that Beaumont Health CEO John Fox’s compensation increased 82%, to more than $5.6 million, in 2017.
“Whether you are black, brown, or white, you deserve a strong union,” said Haney, “The benefits in this contract will improve the lives of both union and non-union workers alike. But without a union, none of this could have been possible.”
Contended items in the contract included Beaumont covering the cost of uniforms; maintaining Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday; increasing personal leave by 4 days; and overtime pay for shifts lasting over 8 hours. All of these items were included in the final agreement.
“There were a few times when people wanted to give in, but they knew they needed to do right for their patients,” said Haney, “This is a fight not just for workers, but for our patients. Our workers didn’t want to put patient safety at risk, as short staffing is still a concern at Beaumont.”
Haney reiterated that while the agreement is a huge step forward, it wouldn’t be the end.
“The biggest push is to continue to organize for non-union members,” said Haney, “We want all employees to benefit from our union regardless if they are union members or not.”
The contract was voted in approval on February 24th, 2020.