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SEIU-UHW Trumpets Pay Raises for Members, Despite Bad Economy

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 23, 2009

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West is boasting that its rank-and-file hospital workers in California, who secured new contracts in 2009, received pay hikes that were nearly double the national average—despite a tanking state economy that is among the worst in the nation.

SEIU-UHW-represented hospital workers, on average, received a 4.3% wage increase for the first year of their contract in 2009. That does not include the back pay and signing bonuses many members also received on top of the wage hikes. In comparison, an analysis of collective bargaining data by the Bureau of National Affairs shows that nationally the average first-year wage increase bargained was 2.3% for 2009, SEIU-UHW said in a media release.

"SEIU-UHW hospital members have won amazing settlements in 2009 thanks to the unity of 150,000 members and their commitment to improving work and patient care standards," said SEIU-UHW Trustee Dave Regan. "That members have achieved these contracts in this economy makes it even more impressive."

More than 7,300 SEIU-UHW members at 20 healthcare facilities are covered by contracts settled in 2009. This includes a first-year wage increase of 7.8% at Sutter Roseville Medical Center; 3% at John Muir Medical Centers in Brentwood, Concord, and Walnut Creek; 6% increase at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside; and 4% at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.

"Given the difficult economy, we knew contract negotiations would be challenging this year. Being a part of a strong union, we had the support we needed to sit down at the bargaining table and get a strong contract. It not only included an increase in wages, but protected our healthcare," said Bruce Allen, a radiologic technologist at Sutter Roseville Medical Center and a member of the SEIU-UHW bargaining team.

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