SEIU 1199 strikes at Groden Center Friday

PROVIDENCE – Members of the Service Employees International Union District 1199 employed at the Groden Center Inc. went on strike Friday, at the same time that the union is in negotiation with the school system for a new contract.

SEIU New England members have alleged that the organization is experiencing high turnover due to low wages and “backwards management policy,” a claim that the organization refutes.

“Things have never been this bad,” said Bob Arruda in a statement, who the union said has worked as a behavior specialist at Groden for 20 years. “Every day now our students are put in the care of a rotating cast of temporary agency staff, who don’t know their needs and don’t have the training to help them learn to their full potential.”

The Groden Network, an umbrella organization for similar schools in New England, issued a statement on Friday refuting the claims of low pay by touting how it pays its unionized employees and noted its lack of safety violations incurred by a licensing agency as a response to the strike.

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It also issued a statement apologizing for any inconvenience the strike caused its neighbors and said it is working with public safety officials to ensure the safety of its staff during the strike.

The Groden Center is a nonprofit that serves students with autism.