Preble Street’s unionized workers are set to get an average 19 percent wage hike under a tentative contract reached with the nonprofit.
That contract between the human services agency and Preble Street United, which belongs to the Maine Service Employees Association, SEIU 1989, still requires votes from the board of directors and union before it is ratified.
Those votes are expected later this week, according to Danielle Smaha, the communications director for Preble Street.
Under the contract, full-time workers will receive at least $19.24 an hour, with additional pay for those who use proficiency in foreign languages to communicate with people using Preble Street’s services, those who work in critical 24/7 services, and based on position and years of service.
There will be seven additional steps on Preble Street’s wage scale, with pay increases upon ratification of between $3.50 and $5.50 an hour, according to the Maine AFL-CIO.
It also provides for a more inclusive bereavement policy, paid time off for workers who experience trauma on the job, paid time off for part-time employees, the option for remote work, foreign language training and clear job descriptions for all employees.
The contract also addresses diversity, equity and inclusion concerns, providing paid interpreters during disciplinary and investigatory meetings, enforceable guidelines on hate speech and a seat for employees on committees dealing with issues of inclusion.
“Having sat on the bargaining committee both this year and our very first one two years ago, I am proud of the strength of our solidarity and the gains we’ve collectively made this year in our contract,” said Dylan Monahan, a health services caseworker and member of the Preble Street United bargaining team. “I am proud to report to my peers we won movement on every proposal we brought to the table, from provisions around further developing our wage scale to provisions around equity and inclusion and more. We look forward to testing new contract language in the coming two years and continuing to build our union here at Preble Street.”
Erin Keeley, a caseworker at Preble Street’s Florence House, which provides housing for chronically homeless women, said the wage increase will enable her to remain in her job rather than leave for higher pay elsewhere.
“This agreement means I can now get my focus back to where it belongs, helping ladies better their lives,” Keeley said.
Mark Swann, the executive director of Preble Street, applauded the tentative agreement, saying it honors the dedication of the nonprofit’s frontline workers who faced added challenges during the pandemic.
“This agreement honors that dedication by making an agency-wide, long-lasting change to our wage structure that increases equity, makes a significant investment in Preble Street staff, and is sustainable for the long-term health of the organization. I would like to thank both the Preble Street and union teams for their hard work to reach this agreement,” he said.
Preble Street United represents 150 workers across Preble Street’s locations in Portland, Lewiston and Bangor.