SEIU Local 49 members ratify new contract at Legacy Emanuel
Six weeks after they went on strike for 24 hours, support workers at Legacy Emanuel Hospital approved a new union contract by a five-to-one margin.
The contract covers about 400 janitors, cafeteria workers, nurse assistants and emergency room aides, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49, an affiliate of the Change To Win labor federation.
The three-year agreement gives them raises of 2.5 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent. Plus, employees who’ve been there 20 years get a $500 payment, and those with 10 years seniority get an additional 55 cents an hour increase.
The contract also contains an unusual clause which says workers have a right to respectful treatment from managers.
“A lot of the workers felt that Legacy managers weren’t treating them with the respect they deserved,” said Felisa Hagins, Local 49 political director.
The final package contained only slight improvements to management’s position prior to the Aug. 31 strike. Management improved its offer by half a percent in the third year, plus the respect clause and the extra pay for senior employees.
Hagins said Legacy proved to be a very difficult employer to move, owing to the fact that most of the Legacy system is non-union. While workers at Oregon Health & Science University and Kaiser Permanante are 90 percent unionized, only 10 percent of workers at Legacy have a union, Hagins said.
Besides support workers at Legacy Emanuel, Local 49 has a similar unit at Legacy Good Samaritan. Local 49 was unable to get management to agree to synchronize contract expiration of the two units.
Hagins said if SEIU is able to win improvements to the health plan for the Legacy Good Samaritan unit next year, the Legacy Emanuel contract has a “me-too” clause to assure the same treatment.
Several legal charges stemming from the contract dispute are still pending before the National Labor Relations Board. Local 49 accused Legacy of retaliating against workers for the Aug. 31 strike — by closing a hospital cafeteria the following week. The new contract expires June 30, 2008.
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