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Going the distance for a fair contract in Burlingame, California

Workers at Burlingame Skilled Nursing on strike in 2021. Photo: AFSCME Council 57
By AFSCME Staff ·

It wasn’t easy, but they got it done.

AFSCME members who work for California’s Burlingame Skilled Nursing facility have ratified a hard-fought contract that provides pay raises, better benefits, improvements in hiring and seniority policies, and host of other worker-friendly provisions.

About 95% of the members of Local 829 (Council 57) voted to ratify the three-year agreement late last month. Negotiations between the front-line workers and management began in April.

Key highlights include wage increases to compensate workers for years of sub-par wages; expanded “step” pay scales based on seniority; and improved policies on seniority, filling vacancies, leaves of absence and probationary periods for workers. Workers will see wage increases of 15.4% on average in the first year, with an average raise of 19.1% over three years. Additionally, the employer agreed to pick up 75% of workers’ dental and vision benefits.

The licensed vocational nurses, nursing assistants, cooks, dietary aides, housekeepers, laundry aides and other AFSCME members working at Burlingame went on strike last year to protest the unfair labor practices of the facility’s owner, Brius Health Care. They considered going on strike again this year to force management to come to the negotiating table.

The workers took their fight public in September, demanding that management remedy staffing shortages and crippling caseloads caused by unlivable wages and skyrocketing health care costs. Community members, including local elected officials, backed them up.

Brius is the largest for-profit nursing home operator in California. Last year, as coronavirus cases surged across the state, the company ignored the Burlingame workers’ pleas for better staffing ratios and higher wages, even as the workers put their lives on the line to serve patients.

Local 829 is made up of workers in San Mateo County, Calif., including emergency dispatchers, social workers, health care workers, school counselors and more.

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