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Nearly 900 Workers at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center Make History With Vote to Join 1199SEIU

In one of the largest hospital union elections in New England history, workers unite for quality patient care and good, secure jobs

BOSTON, April 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Healthcare workers at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, the largest medical center in the Caritas Christi Health Care chain, today announced they have voted to join 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East following a hospital-wide vote.

The vote means more than 850 St. Elizabeth's Medical Center workers will officially join 1199SEIU, just weeks after the announcement of an historic accord between 1199SEIU and Caritas Christi Health Care pledging free and fair voting conditions for employees while they are deciding whether to join a union. A smaller group of skilled maintenance workers also voted to join the Area Trade Council.

"We are overjoyed by the news and thrilled that the new leadership of Caritas gave us the opportunity to make this decision for ourselves," said St. Elizabeth's Medical Center employee Sonia Marshall, "We believe in the mission of St. Elizabeth's, and we're excited about working together to make the quality of care at our hospital the best that it can be. We look forward to the day when all of our colleagues across Boston are able to have free and fair union elections."

Caritas Christi Health Care, the largest community-based health system in Massachusetts, and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the state's largest healthcare union, reached an historic accord in January 2009. Caritas Christi and the members of 1199SEIU will work together on 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.

"We warmly and enthusiastically welcome St. Elizabeth's workers into our union," said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. "This is a time of great challenges and unprecedented opportunities. Caritas Christi is a thoughtful and innovative employer that understands how giving workers a free choice about uniting together not only allows them to improve conditions for their patients and themselves, but also helps to preserve the long-term sustainability of their hospital. Now that St. Elizabeth's workers have a union voice, we can all work together to defend healthcare funding, expand access, improve quality of care and make sure there are good, secure jobs for Boston working families."

"By an overwhelming margin, St. Elizabeth's workers have come together to unite with the common goal of making their hospital the best it can be for patients and the community," said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Mike Fadel. "During this time of budget cuts and economic uncertainty -- workers at St. Elizabeth's will stand together with their fellow healthcare workers across Massachusetts."

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

Organizing effort are ongoing at every hospital in Boston and hospital CEOs across the city have been asked to allow workers to vote under free and fair conditions. Workers at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center have pledged to help health care workers at facilities across Boston as well as other Caritas Christi facilities -- where union election campaigns are expected to launch in the near future.

Representing more than 320,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.

SOURCE 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
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