Service Workers Land Contract

Union leaders announced yesterday that they had struck a contract
for 200 service workers at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital and the
Windemere Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center.

The two-year contract is effective Oct. 1 and includes a three per
cent cost of living increase for workers over the next two years. When
step increases are added, workers at the hospital and Windemere can
expect to see a total salary increase between six and eight per cent.

"Negotiations went well; they were cordial and I think
everyone was feeling pretty good about it," hospital chief
executive officer Tim Walsh said yesterday.

Contract negotiations for Windemere workers have been tense in
recent years as the financially troubled nursing home has been plagued
by staff shortages and also high turnover in administrators.

"Windemere is doing all right, knock on wood, so we can hold
on for now," Mr. Walsh said.

Windemere and the hospital share the same campus.

The contract for nonprofessional employees at both institutions
expired Sept. 30. Negotiations have been under way for about two months.

"This was really smooth and I don't think these are
outrageous contracts, they are good contracts," Mr. Walsh said.

Mr. Walsh did not participate in the negotiations; he said the chief
negotiator for management was Ken Chisolm, who is the human resources
director for the hospital and Windemere. Mr. Chisolm is also the
administrator in training for Windemere.

"It was pretty uneventful, which is the way you like it to
be," Mr. Walsh said of the contract talks.

The union that represents the workers is SEIU Local 2020.

"These contracts reflect not just the reality of what it costs
to live on the Island," said union representative Patrick Crowley
in a prepared statement released yesterday, "they also take into
account the extremely hard work these members do every day in very
difficult circumstances."

Mr. Crowley said the contracts also addressed the ongoing need to
develop more adequate staffing. Under the new contracts, new per diem
programs with cash incentives will be introduced along with the improved
wages. Parties on both sides agreed to meet every spring to discuss
alternative health insurance options as a way to keep costs in line.

The contracts cover office workers, nursing assistants, licensed
practical nurses, technical, professional and maintenance workers.