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Workers Settle Contract at 10 Bay Area Nursing Homes

Tentative Agreement Shows Strength of 'One Healthcare Union' Approach

OAKLAND, Calif., July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Nursing home workers at 10 Northern California facilities have reached a tentative agreement on a groundbreaking new contract covering more than 1,000 employees, which will give them some of the highest nursing home wages in the state and further strengthen their ability to provide quality care for residents.

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

"This agreement shows that when employers and workers are willing to work toward a solution, we can get there," said Ruby Guzman, a certified nursing assistant at Creekside Health Center in San Pablo. "This represents a turning point in UHW's effort to build a new relationship with the nursing home industry-one based on improving care by investing in the workforce, much like our relationship with hospital systems in California."

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

Under the terms of the tentative agreement, all workers will receive wage increases of up to 16 percent over the life of the contract. Starting nurse assistants' wages will reach $16.61, the highest starting pay for this position in a nursing home in California. Additionally, it includes several employment security guarantees, which are the first of their kind in an industry often marked by instability and high turnover.

Mariner also agreed to a code of conduct for organizing drives at facilities where workers are not yet represented by a union. The agreement embraces the model that UHW has established with the hospital industry in California.

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

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

Building on the success of this coordinated approach, UHW has proposed bringing 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 united in a single union," said Sal Rosselli, president of UHW. "It's our ability to bring hospital, nursing home, and homecare workers together that leads to victories such as this one. The longer we remain divided, the harder it will be to achieve real equality and improve care across California."

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.

CONTACT: Mason Stockstill

(510) 206-8247

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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