Strike Averted at Citizens’ League for Adults With Special Services, Inc. (CLASS) in Lawrence
We are pleased to report that staff at CLASS, Inc., who directly care for individuals with disabilities, reached a settlement late Friday evening with CLASS management and avoided a strike. Their victory is the result of strong organizing and community support. The workers at CLASS are represented by SEIU 509.
Facing a strike that was set to begin today (Monday) management at CLASS, Inc. returned to the table late Friday for a negotiation session overseen by a federal mediator and convened by Massachusetts Senator Barbara L’Italien. The resulting settlement is subject to a ratification vote next week by affected CLASS, Inc. workers, who returned to work today.
Friday’s settlement marks an inflection point in a years-long campaign by CLASS workers, organized through SEIU Local 509, to address the crisis in caregiving created by low wages at the agency. The one-year tentative agreement is a critical step towards reducing staff turnover and improving the standard of care for individuals with disabilities in the Merrimack Valley.
The tentative agreement will result in a $.75/hour raise for direct care staff over the course of the one year contract, a significant raise for workers at CLASS, Inc. who are among the lowest paid at peer agencies across the Commonwealth.
“At the end of the day, we won a better contract,” continued Thomas Baca, a driver at CLASS. “But the fight continues to make sure the individuals we care for can access the care they deserve.”