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New Caritas Christi Labor Pact Partially Links Raises to Reimbursement Rates

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 11, 2009

Caritas Christi, Massachusetts' largest community-based healthcare system, and the Service Employees International Union announced a first-of-its-kind labor agreement Friday that partially indexes pay hikes to reimbursement rates at four hospitals in the Bay State.

The four-year contract—which was ratified by 90% of the workers—also provides benefits and education opportunity improvements for nearly 3,000 members of local 1199SEIU at the hospitals, which includes access to the local's Training and Upgrading Fund—the largest joint labor-management training and education fund in the country.

Caritas and SEIU officials said in a joint media release that the contract underscores their shared mission to ensure improved funding and care delivery throughout the health system.

"Providing greater workforce stability and enhanced training and education programs, and the creation of a collaborative approach to problem-solving will allow us to continue to offer access to quality care in the communities we serve," said Caritas Christi CEO Ralph de la Torre, MD.

The contract is the first of its kind in Massachusetts that partially indexes select wage increases to hospital reimbursement rates. The contract immediately brings the hourly wages of the lowest-income employees at the four hospitals to $12.62. Additional across-the-board raises for all 1199SEIU members are scheduled for Jan. 1, 2010 (3% plus ratification bonus), Oct. 1, 2010 (4%), Oct. 1, 2011 (2% guaranteed plus another increase based on hospital reimbursement rate), and Oct. 1, 2012 (2% guaranteed plus another increase based on hospital reimbursement rate).

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