SEIU Members To Vote on Agreement With Catholic Healthcare West
The Service Employees International Union on Tuesday announced that union leaders have agreed to a four-year contract with hospital chain Catholic Healthcare West, the Sacramento Bee reports. Under the contract, the not-for-profit hospital chain would increase union members' wages by an average of 20% over four years, union and hospital officials said (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 6/2). CHW also would contribute money to a training fund, paid educational leave and tuition reimbursement for SEIU members training for higher-level positions, the Ventura County Star reports (Crowe, Ventura County Star, 6/2). SEIU represents about 14,000 workers at 28 CHW hospitals throughout California. SEIU members -- including lab technicians, housekeepers, food service workers and licensed vocational nurses -- will vote on the proposal within two weeks (Sacramento Bee, 6/2). To arrive at the agreement, SEIU and CHW representatives agreed to delay negotiations on issues such as retiree health benefits and joint oversight of the pension plan, according to Chris Slane, a registered nurse who was one of the SEIU negotiators. Slane said that CHW and SEIU could address such issues in 2006.
CHW and SEIU representatives in a separate agreement established a work group to pursue mutual goals, including universal access to health services, improved quality of care and increased responsibility for health care costs, SEIU announced. In addition, CHW agreed to support a law (SB 2) that will require some employers to provide health coverage to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage (Ventura County Star, 6/2). SB 2, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, will require employers with 200 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into the state fund. Employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance only to workers by 2007. The law will exempt employers with fewer than 20 employees. The law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 employees unless the state provides them with tax credits to subsidize the cost of health insurance for workers (California Healthline, 6/1). SEIU also supports SB 2; a referendum to repeal the law will appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot (Ventura County Star, 6/2).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.