Hamilton, NJ – After a nearly three-year battle to secure their voice on the job, the residential counselors and maintenance workers at SERV Centers of New Jersey in Mercer County voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract. These front-line workers, who provide the critical mental, addiction and behavioral services our communities desperately need, stood strong against years of SERV’s efforts to deny them their union rights and won a contract that will improve working conditions, staffing and consumer care.
"This is a monumental moment and a historical moment for behavioral health workers like us across New Jersey,” said Joshua Rogers, a residential counselor. “After years of my co-workers and I being subjected to lack of wages and other not so favorable practice, this contract will hold SERV accountable and make the real positive change."
Highlights from the new three-year contract between SERV and AFSCME New Jersey Council 63 includes improvements in scheduling and overtime protections, protections against firings without cause, seniority rights and allowing workers to actually use the personal time they have earned. And in an industry that suffers from high turnover due to crippling low pay, these workers secured a combined 18.5% pay increase since bargaining began through 8.5% in contract increases and the 10% workers successfully won earlier this year after filing an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board.
“The more management resisted us, the more we knew we were doing the right thing to get this voice on the job, no matter how long it took,” said Roosevelt Day, a residential counselor. “You really find out what is important in this job and why you do this work. For us, we do this work to better our communities, to help those who are struggling and to provide for our own families. And we are showing that if you believe in yourself, if you stand up for yourself and you stay united you can succeed.”
AFSCME NJ represents more than 20,000 women and men who go to work every day to keep NJ working. There are more than 30,000 retired and current AFSCME members living in New Jersey. New Jersey is AFSCME Strong!