Community services

Strike by Sound Community Services employees continues

Contract negotiations are expected to resume on Wednesday after the three-day strike.

NEW LONDON, Conn. — Union mental health workers at Sound Community Services in New London returned to the picket line Monday for the second day of a three-day strike.

Striking employees at the behavioral health and substance abuse center are demanding higher wages, access to benefits and better staffing conditions.

“It’s gotten to this point because we haven’t received any raises or increases in the cost of living for at least four years, and we don’t have affordable health care or a decent retirement program,” he said. said Donavon Powell, an employee of Sound Community. Services which is striking.

RELATED: Sound Community Services CEO responds to mental health workers’ strike over pay

New England Health Care Employees Union Local 1199 said some providers at the center were making around $15 an hour and it was hard to make ends meet.

“The people we serve can go to work in a grocery store and make two dollars an hour more than us. It’s hard to watch,” Powell said.

Sound Community Services CEO Gino DeMaio said their budget comes down to state funding.

“If I had tons of money to give to them, I would be the first to do it, but I think the problem is that, based on the percentage that the state has given to nonprofits, it’s was barely four percent,” says De Maio.

DeMaio added that they were trying to negotiate and there was an offer on the table.

“It was about 1.76 or 1.78 an hour per employee, and we were offering an additional thousand dollars in health insurance contributions and we were talking about a 401K. We always wanted to start a voluntary contribution to a 401K, but they seem to be more interested in salaries,” DeMaio said.

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“What they brought to the table doesn’t show that they’re trying very hard. That said, we are actively working to lobby for an additional eight percent from the state,” Powell said.

DeMaio said the center has about 135 total employees and about 75 are unionized, but some of them are not on strike.

While the strike is ongoing, DeMaio said a contingency plan is in place to ensure all programs are still covered, with non-union managers and workers stepping in.

Mental health care providers plan to rally at the Capitol on Tuesday to seek more state funding.

In New London, contract negotiations are expected to resume on Wednesday after the three-day strike.

A separate strike deadline for unionized mental health workers is scheduled at Gilead Community Services in Middletown, starting May 5 at 6 a.m.

These limited three-day strikes by mental health workers in Sound and Gilead are separate from the indefinite nursing home strike by unionized workers underway at Windsor Health and Rehabilitation.

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Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter for FOX61 News. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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