New Contract Boosts New Haven Housing Authority Workers

The power of collective bargaining to improve the lives of union members can be witnessed in New Haven, where the members of AFSCME Local 713, representing clerical and maintenance employees at Elm City Communities/Housing Authority of New Haven (HANH), recently ratified a new contract with significant gains.

The agreement provides wage increases totaling 6.5 percent over three years and dramatically improves health care coverage by moving employees into the Connecticut Partnership 2.0, which enables municipalities and quasi-governmental agencies to purchase health insurance by joining the state employee plan.

“This is an awesome agreement,” said Local 713 President Pamela Heard, who works as a Resident Services Coordinator at HANH. “It provides the security and stability we need to get the job done for residents and the community we serve.”

Local 713 members previously participated in a high deductive health savings plan that was providing lower quality care at a much higher cost to the workers.

Council 4 has been a leading proponent of health care pooling, and played a prominent role in the fight for legislation creating the Partnership.

“HSAs are not cost-effective,” Heard noted. “Joining the State Partnership will improve our health and save money. It’s win-win for everybody.”

The three-year contract, which expires June 30, 2021, has other improvements, including a process to facilitate participation in union activities (such as grievance hearings) without penalty.  

Heard thanked HANH management, headed by Executive Director Karen Walton-Dubois, for the respectful and constructive tone of negotiations.

She also praised the work of Council 4 Staff Representative Kathleen Cooper, who represented the Local during negotiations with HANH.

“We could not have a better representative than Kathy Cooper,” Heard said, “and a better union than AFSCME Council 4 advocating for us."

Photo: Front row, left to right: Iris Rodriguez (HR), Jasmine Ruiz (Secretary), Pamela Heard (President), Kathy Cooper (Council 4 Rep) Back row: Reynaldo Ortiz (Negotiation Team), Edward Moore (Vice Pres), Karen Dubois Walton (HANH Ex. Dir.),  Mike Adams (Union Steward), Dale Dibenedetto (Union Steward), Ken Barbour (Negotiation Team).