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Amid Drastic Changes Proposed by New Owners, Washington County Workers Urge County Commissioners to Protect Good Jobs and Resident Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5, 2017

Washington County, PA — At the County Commissioners’ meeting today, Washington County Health Center workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania implored Commissioners to aid them in pushing back against the sweeping changes proposed by Premier, the nursing home’s new owner.

“When we first learned our nursing home was being sold, the County assured us that both job and resident care standards would not change,” said Alicia Laube, a certified nursing assistant. “But just this week, we learned Premier is looking to slash our wages by $3 an hour and make our healthcare coverage so expensive we can’t afford to even use it. How can we hope to care for Washington County seniors when we will not be able to care for ourselves?”

This past week, Premier revealed their proposed changes to job conditions which include wage reductions as much as $3 an hour for various departments and increases to healthcare costs that would make coverage virtually out of reach (ex. increasing the current monthly deductible for an individual from $500 to $5,500 and family coverage from $1,000 to $11,000).

Additionally, Premier confirmed plans to outsource management of dietary, laundry and housekeeping to an outside company, HSG. HSG has asked all existing workers to re-apply for their jobs, despite not offering any details on potential changes to their wages, benefits or job conditions.

“The new owners have kept us completely in the dark about possible changes to our jobs. They seem unconcerned by the overwhelming anxiety they are causing the workers,” said Mary Glendenning who works in the dietary department and offered testimony at today’s hearing. “We need answers – our jobs and our futures hang in the balance.”

The final sale date was slated for October 5 but has since been pushed back to October 20. With the extended deadline, workers are hoping County Commissioners will intervene and help workers push back against the most extreme proposals.

“We need our County Commissioners to demand Premier and HSG honor their commitment to the workers who have dedicated their lives to Washington County and its residents,” said Zelda Pirt, who also works in the dietary department and offered testimony at today’s meeting. “We need our Commissioners to hold the new owners accountable to maintaining good jobs and the type of resident care and services our seniors have come to expect.”

Despite the severity of the initial changes proposed by Premier and HSG, the union and management are in the process of confirming dates to bargain a new union contract for the 250 workers at Washington County Health Center.

Contact: Amelia Abromaitis:  215-219-4248  / Amelia.Abromaitis@seiuhcpa.org

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About SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania 

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community-based services, and state facilities across the Commonwealth. Together, we work to protect patient care, expand access to quality health care for all, and to lives of healthcare workers. We accomplish these goals by organizing non-union healthcare workers, driving industry standards in our contracts and fighting for legislation that affects health care in our state.

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