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Workers at 3 nursing homes approve contracts

More than 400 workers at three area nursing homes have ratified new three-year union contracts that include wage increases, officials at Local 1199, Service Employees International Union, said Monday.

At Absolut at Gasport Nursing Home, 55 workers unanimously approved a new labor agreement that calls for wage hikes of 3 percent to 6 percent each year.

The deal also includes job security language that calls for talks between the union and administration about any proposed layoffs so the union can offer alternatives. The agreement covers dietary workers, activity aides, housekeepers and certified nursing assistants.

About 185 workers at Oakwood Nursing Home overwhelmingly ratified their agreement in two votes May 31 and June 17. The agreement, which covers dietary workers, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses, maintains current benefits and includes a 2 percent raise each year.

And 160 unionized employees at Newfane Rehabilitation Health Care Center approved a new contract by a 2-to-1 margin affecting the same types of jobs as at Oakwood. Employees at Newfane agreed to a wage freeze this year, in recognition of the industry's struggles, but will get a 2 percent raise in 2012 and 2013. In exchange, the nursing home agreed to job security terms that guarantee no layoffs for employees hired before November 2009. Other benefits are intact.

SEIU 1199 represents 4,300 workers at 38 nursing homes in Western New York. Of the 21 contracts that expire this year, 15 have been settled.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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