Reprinted on LaborPress April 30, 2013
Thousands of Americare workers from UFCW Local 348-S in New York City ratified a new contract in an overwhelming city-wide vote on Saturday. The new contract includes a new system that ensures worker seniority when it assigns cases. Members also have improved bereavement leave and secured leave for union stewards. Americare home health aides take care of and assist elderly and disabled patients in their homes.
Members at Americare participated in an extensive seven-month campaign featuring a contract survey that gathered information from hundreds of members and several informational pieces that communicated bargaining priorities and updates to the membership. A text blast system provided bargaining updates to a list of hundreds of core activists, a crucial link to a widely dispersed home-based workforce that lacks a common worksite.
Phone-banking and one-on-one sessions at workers’ homes also identified leaders in the bargaining unit who will later become “neighborhood stewards,” providing a union base for workers who don’t see each other at work or in break rooms. Dozens of members attended bargaining sessions. Workers also organized home meetings where aides gathered to discuss their work and their contract, and a rally when contract talks broke down in January that brought out dozens of aides, other UFCW locals, and allies.