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« Boston Globe: Hospital workers say yes to union | Main | More than 800 Workers at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Make History with Vote to join 1199SEIU »

Workers at Caritas Carney Hospital in Boston Vote to Join 1199SEIU

As citywide campaign by hospital workers to unite in 1199SEIU gains momentum, workers choose united voice to ensure Carney is best place to work and receive care

Following a two-day, hospital-wide vote, nearly 500 caregivers at Caritas Carney Hospital in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston voted overwhelmingly (79% YES) to join 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest labor union of healthcare workers in Massachusetts. Carney Hospital is part of Caritas Christi Health Care, the largest community based hospital system in the state.

Workers at the Dorchester facility who have now joined 1199SEIU include respiratory therapists, radiology techs, licensed practical nurses, nurse assistants, pharmacy techs, clerical workers, housekeepers, dietary workers and many others. Just two months ago, more than 800 at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston also voted to join 1199SEIU.

“This has been a long time coming, and we are thrilled,” said Carney Hospital Nuclear Medicine Technician Kathy Riley. “We are devoted to our patients and this community, and we’re excited about working together to make the quality of care at our hospital the best that it can be. We’re proud to continue the momentum of hospital workers across Boston in joining 1199SEIU. Free and fair union elections for all.”

The successful vote was hailed by community leaders as a win not just for caregivers, but also for patients and the community.

“Carney is so much more than just a community hospital - it’s a real part of the community,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in a statement. “Generations of Dorchester families have turned to Carney for quality care, good jobs and a ray of hope. Joining 1199SEIU means Carney workers will protect what they’ve built - and improve things for the future. Why can’t every hospital in the city of Boston have 1199?”

“When workers have a free choice about uniting together, it not only allows health care workers to improve conditions for their patients and themselves, but also helps to preserve the long-term sustainability of their hospital,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “And a strong Carney Hospital will help Dorchester continue to be one of the strongest and most vibrant communities in Boston. We are so proud to welcome the workers of Carney to 1199SEIU.”

In the past year, thousands of healthcare workers in Boston have voted to join 1199SEIU for a voice for job security, a better future for their families, and to provide the best patient care. During these difficult economic times, caregivers have found that having a united voice has also been effective in protecting the economic health of their hospitals and their communities. As a union of healthcare workers, 1199SEIU has developed a legacy of advocacy for public investment in quality healthcare services, training, and access, and has defended many health facilities against funding cuts.

“Carney Hospital is part of the heart and soul of the Dorchester community - and the workers at Carney are devoted to providing the highest quality of care possible for the citizens of Boston,” said State Representative Martin J. Walsh. “Caregivers at Carney will now be able to use the strength of their voices to advocate for the best care for their patients and funding for their hospital.”

In October of 2007, non-union hospital workers across Boston announced their appeal to hospital CEOs to allow free and fair voting conditions when deciding whether to join a union. Caritas Christi Health Care distinguished itself as the first major health system to forge such an agreement with 1199SEIU in January 2009.

“Caregivers at Carney Hospital do some of the most important work in our community - by caring for the sick and providing hope,” said Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney. “And by joining 1199SEIU through a free and fair union election, we know that workers will have a real voice in improving the quality of care for their patients and keeping the hospital strong. Every Boston hospital worker deserves this fair process.”

At every hospital in Boston, workers are organizing to unite in 1199SEIU. Workers who have organized at St. Elizabeth’s and Carney facilities have pledged their support to assist colleagues at other Boston facilities do the same.

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