LCCAA Reaches Agreement with Union

posted 1/6/22 -- Lorain County Community Action Agency has reached a new three-year agreement with union represented employees which, at LCCAA’s instigation, raises wages, adds vacation time and holidays, and expands retirement benefits.

The ratified agreement includes a $15 minimum wage, which President and CEO Jackie Boehnlein said reflects the need for high quality staff delivering services to the exacting standards demanded by federal funders.

“As a grant-funded organization, we operate under many expectations with limited resources,” Boehnlein said. “Historically, working for a non-profit has meant working for lower wages. We proposed the $15 minimum wage in an effort to change that, especially in light of current labor shortages.”

In addition to the increased wages, the new agreement eliminated the requirement that employees work the full-year in order to receive vacation benefits, making all 112 members of the bargaining unit eligible. Other additions include a generous longevity wage adjustment, expanded retirement benefits and new holidays for Juneteenth – the one economic request the union made - , the employee’s birthday, and half day holidays on Good Friday and Election Day.

“In return for the expanded benefits, the agency sought and secured changes to the contract’s language and structure to make it easier for employees to understand,” Boehnlein said. “Piecemeal editing over the last two decades had left much of the language disjointed as to employee rights and responsibilities. I’m pleased we solved that issue for our employees.”

Negotiations, facilitated by a federal mediator over a virtual platform, began June 23, 2021, and the previous contract expired August 7. LCCAA was notified yesterday that employees had ratified the contract. The agreement will be executed with signatures but, by law, goes into effect on the date of ratification.

The January 5 ratification vote by union members ends months of negotiations which were sensationalized at times.

“During bargaining, the union worked to publicly discredit the agency in an unsuccessful attempt to gain leverage at the table,” Boehnlein said. “The response of the community - in support of both the agency and myself personally - reaffirmed the importance of our organization. We look forward to moving ahead under the new agreement to continue to serve Lorain County residents in need.”