Workers Settle Contract at 10 Bay Area Nursing Homes

Thursday, July 3, 2008 General News
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OAKLAND, Calif., July 2 Nursing home workers at 10Northern California facilities have reached a tentative agreement on agroundbreaking new contract covering more than 1,000 employees, which willgive them some of the highest nursing home wages in the state and furtherstrengthen their ability to provide quality care for residents.

SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West represents caregivers at 10 facilitiesoperated by Mariner Health Care. The tentative contract settlement linksworkers' wages on a percentage basis with those at Kaiser Permanentehospitals, where workers are also members of UHW. It also establishes first-of-their-kind patient care committees that improve the workers' ability toadvocate on behalf of patients and residents.

"This agreement shows that when employers and workers are willing to worktoward a solution, we can get there," said Ruby Guzman, a certified nursingassistant at Creekside Health Center in San Pablo. "This represents a turningpoint in UHW's effort to build a new relationship with the nursing homeindustry-one based on improving care by investing in the workforce, much likeour relationship with hospital systems in California."

The contract will cover workers at the following facilities: FremontHealth Center; Hayward Hills Healthcare Center, Driftwood Healthcare Center,and Parkview Convalescent Hospital in Hayward; Florin Healthcare Center inSacramento; Almaden Health and Rehabilitation Center and Skyline ConvalescentHospital in San Jose; Creekside Health Center and Vale Care Center in SanPablo; and Pine Ridge Care Center in San Rafael.

Under the terms of the tentative agreement, all workers will receive wageincreases of up to 16 percent over the life of the contract. Starting nurseassistants' wages will reach $16.61, the highest starting pay for thisposition in a nursing home in California. Additionally, it includes severalemployment security guarantees, which are the first of their kind in anindustry often marked by instability and high turnover.

Mariner also agreed to a code of conduct for organizing drives atfacilities where workers are not yet represented by a union. The agreementembraces the model that UHW has established with the hospital industry inCalifornia.

The workers must vote to ratify the agreement before it will take effect.

The contract represents the first major agreement reached during UHW'shistoric 2008 campaign, in which more than 75,000 healthcare workersthroughout California will negotiate new contracts. Healthcare workers at morethan 100 nursing homes and over 50 hospitals are seeking new agreements inwhat may be the largest-ever coordinated bargaining effort in the healthcareindustry.

Building on the success of this coordinated approach, UHW has proposedbringing all healthcare workers in California into a single local of SEIU,rather than keeping them scattered across several different locals.

"The verdict is clear: healthcare workers are stronger when we're unitedin a single union," said Sal Rosselli, president of UHW. "It's our ability tobring hospital, nursing home, and homecare workers together that leads tovictories such as this one. The longer we remain divided, the harder it willbe to achieve real equality and improve care across California."

With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is thefastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcareworkers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, includinghospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achievehigh-quality healthcare for all.

CONTACT: Mason Stockstill(510) 206-8247

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West

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