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Union signs health care agreement at Delaware Avenue nursing homes

Moments before workers were to begin picketing two Delaware Avenue nursing homes Friday, their union accepted an offer from management to implement a health insurance package the sides had agreed to in February.

That stopped the scheduled picketing at Emerald North Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1205 Delaware Ave., and at Emerald South, 1175 Delaware. The facilities were formerly the Presbyterian Homes, but Presbyterian Senior Care sold them to Emerald, a downstate company, in 2012.

According to an announcement from Local 1199, Service Employees International Union, the union has been fighting with Emerald over health coverage for its members, as Emerald altered the contract that was in force when Presbyterian Senior Care owned the facilities. The union filed a grievance over the reduced coverage and increase co-payments, and an arbitrator ruled that the contract could be reopened, but Emerald had to pay the workers the difference between the old and new co-pays. A new health insurance deal was reached Feb. 12, but Emerald had not implemented it. The union said the company now has promised to do so by the end of May. About 200 workers at the two facilities were affected.