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United Healthcare Workers Win New Contract with Horizon West

Local union outpaces national SEIU in securing rights for members and non-union workers

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - Workers at six Sacramento-area nursing homes voted by more than 97 percent to approve a groundbreaking new contract with Horizon West, achieving important gains for residents and workers that are far ahead of the rest of the industry.

Over 500 members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) won the agreement with their employer after six months of negotiations, on the day before a planned strike.

"Residents at our nursing homes depend on us, not just to care for them, but to advocate for them," said Shameshia Fentress, CNA at Heritage Care Center in Sacramento. "Now we have a stronger voice to set safer staffing levels that protect our residents and ourselves."

Workers covered by the new contract won:

-- Wage increases of up to 25 percent over three years and wage scales at

all six facilities.

-- Health insurance paid by the employer up to 85 percent.

-- Quality care committees that give caregivers a voice in staffing and

other patient care decisions, with third-party mediation if necessary to

reach agreement.

-- Successorship language so that if a facility is sold the new owner must

abide by the contract. While common in hospital contracts, the

successorship provisions UHW members have won this year are a first for

the nursing home industry in California.

-- Defined-benefit pensions for workers

-- The opportunity for career ladder training and upgrade programs funded

through the UHW Joint Employer Training and Upgrade Fund.

In addition to these gains for UHW members, the contract protects workers' right to form a union without employer interference at 18 other nursing homes in Northern California, with a Code of Conduct Agreement.

This victory stands in stark contrast to the failed "Alliance" strategy advocated by national SEIU President Andy Stern. Recent deals made between SEIU International and nursing homes in Southern California do not include many key standards won by UHW members, including wage scales, defined-benefit pension plans, successorship protections, a code of conduct for organizing non-union workers, and quality care committees to give workers a direct voice in resident care. Those standards were sacrificed by SEIU in exchange for limited opportunities to organize other nursing home workers.

[UHW analysis at]

In the last four months, UHW members have won contracts with Mariner, Sava, and Horizon West that protect workers' right to form a union at 22 non-union nursing homes -- more than the number of homes UHW was allowed to organize under the national union's failed Alliance model. Nursing home workers who join together in UHW will have full collective bargaining rights, unlike workers organized into "template agreements" under the Alliance model.

"Top-down deals don't help our union grow -- members do," said Shannon Mullings, CNA at Lakeport Skilled Nursing in Lakeport. "When healthcare workers are united and leading the fight, we can help others join with us and have a real voice in our workplace and in our union."

The Horizon West contract begins immediately and expires on June 15, 2011. It covers workers at the following facilities:

-- Foothill Oaks Care Center in Auburn

-- Heritage Care Center in Sacramento

-- Lakeport Skilled Nursing in Lakeport

-- Monterey Pines Skilled Nursing Center in Monterey

-- Placerville Pines Care Center in Placerville

-- Sierra Healthcare Center in Davis

With more than 150,000 members, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the fastest-growing healthcare union in the United States. We represent healthcare workers in all job classifications and all healthcare settings, including hospitals, homecare, nursing homes and clinics. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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