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Monday, June 3, 2013, 10:00 a.m.

Contact: Jeff Hall, 617-281-8384

jeff.hall@1199.org, Twitter: @1199mass

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

TAUNTON, MA – Healthcare workers at Morton Hospital who are members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first union contract. 1199SEIU members at Morton voted 224 to 8 in favor of the new contract, which includes improvements in wages, health insurance, and employment standards.

“It’s nice to have a voice that will be heard. Having a contract and having this protection, that’s a big thing,” said Lisa King, a certified pharmacy technician for 23 years at the hospital and a member of 1199SEIU. Lisa was on the bargaining committee that negotiated the new agreement with Morton management.

The new contract will raise standards for more than 500 healthcare workers who are members of 1199SEIU at Morton. Highlights of the agreement include lowered health insurance premiums for new employees, overall wage increases, a ratification bonus for eligible employees, job protection language, and several other job improvements. The contract also includes a provision to ensure a living wage for every worker at the hospital, which will result in a significant increase for workers in some lower-wage positions at the facility.

As part of the contract, beginning in the summer of 2014, union members will also qualify to participate in the 1199EIU Training and Upgrading Fund, a jointly administered educational benefit that provides career ladder and educational opportunities for healthcare workers. For eligible union members, this program will pay the cost of tuition at colleges and universities across the Commonwealth and will also provide college preparation courses and other workshops on job preparation and career advancement. Employer contributions to the Fund are part of the contract ratified by Morton employees.

“This is a job where you can spend the rest of your life where you know you can have raises, inexpensive health insurance, and you can further your education with the new Training Fund,” said Mike Fraga, a member of the bargaining committee and a transport aide at the hospital for the last two years.

“This first contract is a great achievement for healthcare workers at Morton Hospital,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “It’s a win not just for the workers at Morton, but also for patients, the local economy, and the community,” she said.

Morton Hospital is owned by Steward Health Care. Union members at Morton Hospital join more than 4,500 other 1199SEIU members who have won contracts at seven other Steward hospitals in Massachusetts. In addition to being part of the master 1199SEIU contract across Steward, members at each hospital in the chain, now including Morton, have negotiated individual side agreements that cover specific issues relevant to each facility.

Workers at the hospital voted to organize in October 2012 and joined 1199SEIU, the largest healthcare workers union in Massachusetts.

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Representing nearly 50,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts, and 370,000 workers in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Washington, D.C., 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all. 1199SEIU is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union.

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