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NURSING HOME EMPLOYEES RECEIVE $45,100 SETTLEMENT IN WAGE AND HOUR SUIT AT BETHEA BAPTIST HOME

 NURSING HOME EMPLOYEES RECEIVE $45,100 SETTLEMENT
 IN WAGE AND HOUR SUIT AT BETHEA BAPTIST HOME
 DARLINGTON, S.C., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty-nine women, employees of the Bethea Baptist Home here, received checks today totaling $45,100 in backpay to settle a wage-and-hour lawsuit filed 20 months ago alleging they worked through meal breaks and before and after their shifts without pay.
 Local 204 of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union discovered the apparent violations of federal wage and hour laws and provided union attorneys to assist the women in filing the suit. The attorneys negotiated the settlement with the nursing home owned by the South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging, Inc.
 The employees voted overwhelmingly in August 1989 to be represented by the UFCW, but no contract has been negotiated.
 "It is fitting that we conclude this journey on the 79th anniversary of the death of Harriet Tubman, the most famous 'conductor' on the Underground Railroad that brought hundreds of slaves to freedom," said Eileen Hanson, a Local 204 representative who has worked closely with the employees.
 "Slaves received no pay," Hanson continued, "but when they reached freedom, they were paid for their labor. It took courage to ride the Underground Railroad, and it took courage for these women to stand up to Bethea and demand payment for all of the hours they worked."
 The employees, who include cooks, dietary workers and nursing assistants, received the checks in a meeting that quickly turned into a victory celebration at the Darlington NAACP offices.
 While Bethea Baptist denies violating the Federal Labor Standards Act in the settlement agreement, Hanson noted the requirement that employees remain on-call "to respond to patient needs during employee meal breaks" has been changed.
 The backpay awards vary according to the employee's hourly rate, the number of hours worked off the clock, and whether those hours were in excess of 40 per week and thus to be paid at the overtime rate of time-and-a-half. Checks ranged from more than $500 to over $3,000.
 "Last Sunday was the 82nd celebration of International Women's Day commemorating an 1857 demonstration by women textile and garment workers for better working conditions and an end to the 12-hour day," Hanson added. The commemoration began right after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire.
 "The Hamlet fire reminds all of us that the fight is not over, and the women of Bethea Baptist Home remind us that justice can be won," she concluded.
 -0- 3/10/92
 /CONTACT: Renee Bowser, UFCW attorney, at the Ramada Inn in Florence, S.C., 803-669-4241; or Eileen Hanson, UFCW Local 204, 800-634-9870/ CO: United Food & Commercial Workers Union ST: South Carolina IN: SU:


DC-MH -- DC026 -- 6990 03/10/92 15:30 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 10, 1992
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