Workers at Cheswick Rehab and Wellness and North Strabane Rehab and Wellness in Washington County ratified a new five-year union contract with their new employer, Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services, after several weeks of challenging contract negotiations. “We’re very pleased with this new contract, and the stability it will bring to both us and our residents,” said Rachelle Brown, a licensed practical nurse at Cheswick. “We’ve seen too many of our co-workers leave in the last few months because of the uncertainty the sale brought, and the threat of wage and benefit cuts in these negotiations. We’re confident that this contract will be able to bring in new staff and provide our residents the high quality care they deserve.”
Formally owned by Consulate Health Care, both facilities were purchased by Comprehensive in September, 2017 but the new employer’s terms and conditions made it necessary for workers to bargain a new contract. During negotiations, management sought wage cuts, the elimination of daily overtime pay, abandoning the union’s training and education fund, as well as other concessions.
Instead of giving up, workers at both buildings chose to go on the offense. They began signing up housekeeping and dietary workers at North Strabane that were not currently in the union. They crafted contract proposals that not only rejected concessions but also improved their contracts. Workers collected petition signatures, wore stickers and held successful informational pickets.
Workers stayed united and settled new contracts that secured fair wage increases, won union recognition for housekeeping and dietary workers at North Strabane, protected seniority and paid time off, retained the Training and Education Fund, and ensured that the healthcare coverage would remain affordable.
In the end, in spite of being sold and facing challenging uncertainty, Comprehensive workers found a way to move forward and emerge stronger on the other side.