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Council 17, Louisiana Department of Health Negotiate Historic Contract

Photo Credit: Zrfphoto / Getty
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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Thousands of state workers in Louisiana will be covered by newly-negotiated employment contracts for the first time in nearly 20 years, thanks to AFSCME.

AFSCME Council 17 has reached its first tentative agreement with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) in almost two decades, ensuring that protections over workplace items such as overtime and employee rights are extended to the agency’s more than 8,000 workers.

“This was a long process and it took hard work from both AFSCME members on the bargaining team and management,” said Sonja Perry, a bargaining committee member and president of AFSCME Local 496. “It’s an exciting moment for AFSCME members across the state of Louisiana.” 

AFSCME bargaining committee members who negotiated the first contract to cover thousands of Louisiana Department of Health employees in nearly 20 years. Photo Credit: Namita Waghray
AFSCME bargaining committee members who negotiated the first contract to cover thousands of Louisiana Department of Health employees in nearly 20 years. Photo Credit: Namita Waghray

Arlene Jackson-Perkins, a Medicaid analyst and an LDH bargaining committee member, said she’s excited about sharing with her co-workers “how close we are to a real contract.” 

“Our next step is getting the majority of our LDH union members to ratify this contract. It seems daunting, but so did bargaining. Through this process I learned that even though I was scared to take the first step, the results are going to be well worth it,” she said. 

LDH was the first agency with which Council 17 was able to negotiate a new tentative agreement. The council is committed to negotiating contracts with other state agencies as well. 

“This will be beneficial not just to LDH employees, for all state workers,” Jackson-Perkins said. “We hope that working with LDH shows our members at other state departments we are committed to a civil and fair process. Each side was respectful of the other and, ultimately, we were able to negotiate a contract that both sides can be proud of.”

AFSCME bargaining committee member Donald West shakes hands with Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto of the Louisiana Department of Health over the tentative agreement. Photo Credit: Namita Waghray
AFSCME bargaining committee member Donald West shakes hands with Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto of the Louisiana Department of Health over the tentative agreement. Photo Credit: Namita Waghray