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News ::
Tentative agreement yields good raises, more stability and respect for Whidden
25 Apr 2002
Rank-and-file union negotiating committee reaches a tentative agreement with CHA covering all service and maintenance, LPN, and skilled trades employees at Whidden Hospital.
Caregivers and other employees at Whidden Hospital faced months of insecurity after Hallmark Healthcare System announced the closure of their hospital in February 2001. Their fears were somewhat eased when Cambridge Health Alliance(CHA)acquired it in July 2001.

Once the transition to CHA was made, it took months of tough negotiations by SEIU Local 285's rank-and-file bargaining committee to fairly integrate pay and benefits into CHA's system for nearly 200 Whidden employees.

"When we first organized, not everyone was too sure about the union. But through all of this uncertainty, people could see how important it was to stick together in our union," said Lee McDonald, a 20 year CNA from Whidden's Transitional Care Unit and one of the leaders of the bargaining committee.

McDonald and other members of the union committee reached a tentative agreement with CHA on Wednesday covering all service and maintenance, LPN, and skilled trades employees at Whidden Hospital.

The major highlights of the "wage re-opener" agreement with CHA include:
Current employees will be placed in a new "step" wage grid on their anniversary date, retroactive to November 4, 2001 (July 1, 2001 for skilled trades). Each employee is guaranteed a minimum 2.5 percent increase, with most employees actually receiving much larger increases. All employees will move up one step -- approximately 5 percent -- on their anniversary date.

In addition to the annual step increase, employees will receive 3 percent across-the-board increases in November, 2002 and November, 2003.

No new hires will be placed above current employees with the same or greater skills or experience.

CHA already contributes 2 percent of an employees' gross salary to a 403B (a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan. Upon ratification, the CHA will now match any employees' contribution with up to an additional 2 percent.

A ratification vote by union members is set for Monday, April 29. The bargaining committee has unanimously recommended a "yes" vote. The contract expires on June 30, 2004.

SEIU Local 285 is a statewide union of health care workers and public employees with more than 11,000 members. The local union represents workers at more than 50 hospitals, health clinics, and nursing homes in Massachusetts.

Be sure to check out our latest press releases at the "Local Media Center" on SEIU Local 285's website at
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