Nearly 500 caregivers at Morton Hospital in Taunton, MA have voted overwhelmingly (94 percent Yes) to join 1199SEIU in what is the largest union organizing vote of 2012 in Massachusetts. 1199SEIU is the largest union of healthcare workers in Massachusetts, and also the fastest growing union in the state. The vote continues a series of organizing victories by hospital workers seeking to join 1199SEIU, including a recent election at Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, MA where 230 workers joined 1199SEIU in August.
Workers at Morton Hospital who participated in the vote to join 1199SEIU included respiratory therapists, radiology techs, licensed practical nurses, nurse assistants, housekeepers, environmental services workers, dietary workers, and many others.
“I have been a Staffing Coordinator at Morton for over six years, and I love my work,” said Jeannie Smith. “Particularly in this tough economy, I know that 1199SEIU will stand with me for job security, for fair wages, and for opportunities like job training. We’ve united to make our voices heard.”
Morton Hospital is a 152-bed facility serving the Greater Taunton area, and is part of Steward Health Care (formerly Caritas Christi). Workers at seven other Steward hospitals have previously voted to join 1199SEIU. Those hospitals include Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, Norwood Hospital, Quincy Medical Center, and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton.
“Workers continue to unite through 1199SEIU to improve working conditions for themselves and their colleagues, promote quality care, and to advocate for the long-term sustainability of their hospitals,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “The workers at Morton will stand together to make a positive impact on the future of healthcare in Massachusetts – both for caregivers and patients alike. We are proud to welcome them to our family.”
"I want to congratulate 1199SEIU on this well-deserved victory,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “This is a victory not only for SEIU but for the hard-working men and women who have placed their faith in a future where economic justice will now be possible."
In January 2009, Caritas/Steward CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre signed a free and fair elections agreement with existing 1199SEIU members within the health system, promising to allow workers at hospitals who sought to form a union the opportunity to do so without management intimidation or coercion. That agreement also laid out a framework for joint advocacy on issues pertaining to healthcare funding and quality patient care.
Steward Health Care System is a community-based accountable care organization and community hospital network with more than 17,000 employees serving more than one million patients annually in more than 150 communities. Steward is the fourth-largest employer in Massachusetts.
In December 2009, following a massive organizing effort that brought thousands of new hospital workers into the union, 1199SEIU members within the system negotiated a four-year master contract covering workers at St. Elizabeth’s, Carney, Good Samaritan, and Norwood. That contract included significant improvements to wages – including a living wage guarantee for low-wage employees – and improvements to health insurance for workers, training opportunities, and other benefits. The contract also established a series of labor-management committees throughout the hospitals to facilitate joint work between union members and management to improve jobs and care.
Workers at more recently organized Steward facilities – including Holy Family, Merrimack Valley, and Quincy Medical Center – have since negotiated into that master contract, while also negotiating supplemental contract language with Steward addressing issues specific to their worksites.
Check Out This Press Coverage:
» Boston Globe, 10/23/12: Morton Hospital workers back union
» Boston Business Journal, 10/24/12: Morton hospital workers join union
» Taunton Daily Gazette, 10/23/12
» Wicked Local Dighton: Nearly 500 non-union Morton Hospital workers vote to unionize
» WBUR CommonHealth blog, 10/24/12: Daily Rounds: Government Probes CVS; Hospital Union Vote; Dual-Eligible Experiment; End School Football?
» Boston.com Business Updates blog, 10/23/12: Employees of Morton Hospital in Taunton vote to join Service Employees International Union
» O Jornal (excerpted), 10/23/12: Nearly 500 non-union Morton Hospital workers vote to unionize