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Caritas Christi, 1199SEIU, Area Trades Council to Announce Historic New Accord to Improve Health Care for Community, Patients, Health Workers

**Press Conference Today, Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 9:30 A.M.**

Elected Leaders Including Kennedy, Menino, Praise State's Largest Community Based Health System for Embracing Courageous New Direction in Labor Relations

Keeping with Catholic Social Teachings, Accord Includes Free and Fair Union Voting Conditions for Caritas Workers

WHAT: Press Conference to announce historic hospital accords.

WHEN: Today, Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Seton Auditorium, First Floor, Main Entrance, 736 Cambridge Street, Boston (Brighton), MA.

BOSTON, Jan. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Caritas Christi Health Care, the largest community based health system in Massachusetts and the state's eleventh largest employer, will announce Tuesday morning an historic and groundbreaking new accord reached by the system with the state's largest labor union of healthcare workers, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The new accord also includes a second labor group, the Area Trades Council, which represents skilled trade workers in hospitals.

A press conference to officially announce the accord will be held Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Seton Auditorium, First Floor, Main Entrance, 736 Cambridge Street, Boston (Brighton), MA. Elected officials scheduled to attend include City of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Sen. Steve Tolman, Sen. Jack Hart, Sen. Richard Moore, Rep. Mike Moran, Rep. Kevin Honan, Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, Rep. John Rogers, Rep. Kevin Aguiar, Rep. Michael Roderigues, Rep. Marty Walsh, Boston City Councilor Mark Ciomo, Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney. Garage and valet parking available. Refreshments, coffee, and light breakfast provided.

Representing a major breakthrough for labor relations within the state's health industry and across the region, the move by Caritas Christi, 1199SEIU, and the Area Trades Council embodies a new level of prospective cooperation designed to bring about the next generation of value and quality to health care.

Caritas Christi, known for delivering world class care in community settings, has reaffirmed the system's commitment to patients, caregivers, the community, and Catholic Social Teachings by pledging without reservation that Caritas will allow free and fair voting conditions for its employees when they are deciding whether to form unions. In addition, Caritas Christi and the members of 1199SEIU will integrate efforts around employee training and education, as well as employee and patient satisfaction, to usher in the next level of health care quality and patient satisfaction.

As the state's second largest healthcare employer with 13,000 employees, Caritas Christi has distinguished itself as the first major health system to forge such an accord since non-union area hospital workers officially announced their appeal to hospital CEOs for free and fair union elections in October 2007.

As a continuation of the Caritas tradition of innovation and excellence, the accord will serve not only to ensure fair union voting conditions for the system's employees, but also promises to help current and future union members within Caritas facilities coordinate more closely with management to build a high quality and economically sound organization devoted to compassionate, quality, patient-centered care for the people of Massachusetts.

Senior Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy released a statement lauding Caritas and the labor groups for coming together for the benefit of patients, health workers, and the community.

"Today's groundbreaking agreement is good for health care, good for workers and good for hospitals," said the statement from Senator Kennedy. "This partnership establishes a firm foundation for future progress that will benefit both the hardworking people in our health care industry and the people of Massachusetts. I congratulate Caritas Christi, 1199 SEIU and the Area Trades Council for their hard work in reaching this agreement."

A separate joint statement from Senators Kennedy and Kerry, along with members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, will be presented at the press conference.

The breakthrough was also met with acclaim from City of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who is scheduled to attend this morning's press conference:

"Caregivers perform one of the most critical roles in helping the sick, but their services are some of the most undervalued. This accord supports those who dedicate their time and energy to care for countless patients every day," said Mayor Menino. "Through this commitment between Caritas Christi and 1199SEIU, everyone involved in delivering quality health care to the people of Boston will benefit. I congratulate these organizations on forming a partnership to strengthen both patient care and employee representation."

Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) praised the announcement, releasing the following statement:

"A highly trained and skilled workforce is essential to maintaining quality healthcare," Senate President Murray said. "This agreement represents that commitment to excellence, and I congratulate everyone involved in making sure we have the best workers and health care services available."

"As we move toward a new era of unity, it is only fitting that we all come together to tackle the enormous and complex issue of providing the highest quality care in a fiscally responsible manner. This accord again reflects that the Caritas family of hospitals are not just in communities, but rather are a part of communities; it is only with all segments of a community working together that we will achieve the level of cost efficient quality care Massachusetts deserves," said Caritas Christi CEO and President Ralph de la Torre.

"We are thrilled that the new leadership of Caritas has affirmed the right of hospital workers to make the decision for ourselves on whether to join together as a union," said St. Elizabeth's Medical Center employee Sonia Marshall. "As Caritas employees, we believe in the mission of our hospitals, and this decision reaffirms that our labor and our voice are valued and respected. In the end, that's what's best for patients, too."

"The urgency of our national healthcare crisis requires everyone - employers, patients, caregivers, and elected leaders - to come together to build bold, enduring solutions to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality-driven healthcare," said Dennis Rivera, Chairman of SEIU Healthcare. "Today, Caritas Christi is joining a national movement in which caregivers have a voice in determining not only the delivery of care to their patients, but the future of healthcare. Working together, we can create a healthcare system that works better for everyone - both the patients receiving care, and the workers who provide it."

"This forward-thinking accord will give workers a free choice about uniting to advocate not just for their patients and themselves, but also for the long-term sustainability of their hospitals and the noble mission of Caritas Christi," said 1199SEIU President George Gresham.

"We are very excited and looking forward to this new working relationship with Caritas Christi. Caritas Christi employees can now freely decide if they want to unionize without any fear of retribution," said Area Trades Council President Allen McWade.

"This is part of a movement to change healthcare for the benefit of all," said Mike Fadel, the Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU in Massachusetts. "It's part of a movement to make sure the people of Massachusetts receive quality care from workers who know their rights are protected and their voices are valued. Caritas management and workers should both be commended for choosing a more enlightened path of labor relations, one that is based on shared values and mutual respect."

Joint Statement from Caritas Christi, 1199SEIU, Area Trades Council

"We aspire to create new opportunities to ensure quality patient care; service to the poor; patient access to services; and improved and more collaborative working conditions for employees.

We affirm our commitment to creating a more positive workplace environment, one that promotes dignity, mutual respect and harmony; employee participation in decisions which affect their work; and a work environment that ensures employee safety and well-being; and opportunities for advancement, learning and growth.

We mutually dedicate ourselves to creating and preserving a sound patient care environment, to serving the poor, and to providing access to services that are essential to caring for human needs.

We share a commitment to a core principle of Catholic Social Teaching that workers have the right to decide through a fair process - free of coercion and based on accurate and truthful information - whether and by whom to be represented in the workplace.

We share a commitment to the ethical and moral tenants of Catholic Healthcare.

To this end, we commit to deepening our existing relationships at Good Samaritan Hospital and St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, and fostering more cooperation on matters of interest to the system, its employees, its patients, and the community."

About Caritas Christi

With over 13,000 employees serving over 600,000 patients annually in 85 communities, Caritas Christi is the largest community based healthcare system in New England and the 11th largest employer in Massachusetts. Caritas Christi is a regional health system of compassionate caregivers that embodies the spirit of Christ's healing ministry, and demonstrates excellence in service, research and education.

About 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

With 340,000 members across Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington D.C. - including 900 members at Good Samaritan Hospital which is operated by Caritas Christi in Brockton, MA - 1199SEIU is the largest union of healthcare workers in Massachusetts. The union is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union, the largest and fastest-growing union in the country.

About the Area Trades Council

The Area Trades Council represents 35,000 physical plant and skilled trade maintenance and engineering workers in Massachusetts, including over 300 skilled trade maintenance employees in Boston-area hospitals and 34 employees at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. Member unions of the Area Trades Council represent 1.8 million workers nationally.

SOURCE 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
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