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Nursing homes approve accord.

Negotiators for Beverly Enterprises, the Nation's largest nursing home chain, and three locals of the Service Employees International Union signed 3-year collective bargaining agreements covering 1,500 workers at 18 nursing homes in Pennsylvania. The union hoped to use the settlements, which provide wage and health care benefit increases and funding for potential pension plans, as a pattern for contracts that cover an additional 3,500 nursing home employees in Pennsylvania. The major sticking point in negotiations involved the union's proposal to establish a pension plan.

The contracts called for wage increases ranging from between 21 percent and 41 percent over the term of the agreement, with larger increases going to employees of four recently organized nursing homes. The average hourly rate for employees at previously organized homes ranged between $6.50 and $7.50.

Although the unions were unable to negotiate a defined benefit pension plan, the company agreed to begin contributing 5 cents per hour for each employee in the second year of the contract and 10 cents per hour in the third year, while the company conducts a pension plan feasibility study. The funds initially would be put in a savings plan, bank account, or other mutually acceptable investment until the company completes its review of the pension proposal. The company's agreement to contribute to an investment program "sets the stage for establishing a pension, something that...has been missing in the private, for-profit nursing home sector," according to the union's chief negotiator.

The union also was able to negotiate enhanced health care benefits and extend them to all employees. Employees under the optional health maintenance organization plans, which have been established only in urban areas, would have their biweekly contributions toward health insurance premiums reduced from varying levels to $15 for single coverage, $20 for an employee with one child, $30 for an employee and spouse, and $40 for family coverage. Effective in July 1994, equivalent benefits will be provided to employees in rural areas.

The settlement also called for each nursing home to establish a health and safety committee with authority to investigate conditions and make recommendations subject to the contracts' grievance procedures; enhanced sick leave policy; and improved paid vacations.
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Title Annotation:collective bargaining agreement at Beverly Enterprises
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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