LIFESPIRE UNIONIZED

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On February 9, roughly 1,200 workers at Lifespire, a nonprofit agency serving the developmentally disabled, joined Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 1000 in the union’s largest private sector victory to date. Lifespire workers have long complained of low and stagnant wages, and problems with client care [see “Lifespire Under Fire,” 8/15/05]. In November of last year, the union submitted a complaint to the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities alleging 350 violations, including lack of medical supplies and short staffing. Because Lifespire receives the bulk of its budget from the state, Local 1000 enlisted the support of elected officials such as State Senators David Patterson, Diane Savino, and Velmanette Montgomery, who pushed Lifespire management to sign a neutrality agreement, vowing not to interfere with unionization. CSEA already represents more than 16,000 caregivers throughout the state. Lifespire workers will begin contract negotiations sometime in March. “We look forward to a partnership with the company in addressing both working conditions and quality care,” said Local 1000 organizing supervisor Paul Frank. (B. Baumer) [02/13/06]