UE Local 221 members who work for the Head Start program at Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) ratified a new two-year agreement this fall. The new contract updates the wage scale for the first time since 2002, when workers agreed to freeze the wage scale and only take cost-of-living adjustments in order to help the agency through some difficult financial times.
Home visitors, whose hours had previously fluctuated based on their caseloads, are now guaranteed a regular 40 hours per week. Site closings due to weather, which had been made on a chaotic site-by-site basis, will now uniformly be determined by the local public elementary school’s decision to close, delay or early release. Labor-Management Committee meetings, which had been held after work hours with no compensation for union participants’s time, will now take place during work hours, and union members will be paid at their regularly hourly rate.
“This wage increase will help me live my life a little better,” said Chief Steward Deb Brousseau. “I’m proud of what we negotiated for our membership.”
The bargaining committee consisted of Chief Steward Deb Brousseau, Kelli Arkley, Lesa Cathcart, and Lee Ann Lee. They were assisted by Field Organizer Abbie Curtis.