About 300 Low Wage Fidelity House CRC Workers Strike Today in Haverhill, Lawrence

Fidelity House CRC workers prepare for strike. (Courtesy photograph.)

About 300 near-minimum wage workers at Fidelity House CRC are striking today, protesting low wages and high turnover at the recently merged Haverhill and Lawrence operations for disabled adults.

The Ward Hill office of the former Career Resources Corporation was scheduled to be closed today, while employees, represented by SEIU Local 509, picket outside. Striking employees are expected to converge at noon for a “Solidarity Rally,” at Fidelity House, 439 S. Union St., Lawrence. Local 509’s Daniel Hoffer summarized the action.

“We are striking for a raise for everyone and equal pay for equal work,” he said.

In a statement, the union said, “SEIU 509 and Fidelity management reached an impasse after management was unwilling to raise wages for nearly one-third of the bargaining unit. Other proposed wages would still leave workers around minimum wage rates once the state’s minimum wage increases again in January 2020.” The statement added, “Low wages have created a turnover crisis, with the agency often deferring to temporary workers to fill in staffing gaps.”

The union recently launched a web page, calling on the public to tell Fidelity House CRC CEO Bradley Howell that “Fidelity House can do better for its workers!” On the page, the union said, “These proposals would improve the quality of care the agency’s clients receive and give the workers and their families more security and stability.”

An email to Howell was not returned by news deadline.

SEIU 509 President Peter MacKinnon said, “The direct care staff at Fidelity do some of the most difficult work in human services. Caring for our state’s most vulnerable is not minimum wage work, but that is what Fidelity direct care staff is being paid. These workers are simply asking Fidelity management for what’s fair—not only so they can support their families, but so they can continue to do the work they love.”

Expected to join workers at the Lawrence rally are Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, state Rep. Marcos Devers and community and faith leaders.

Last week, members of the union at Fidelity House voted to authorize the strike, delivering management with the legally required 10-day notice.

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