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Sunnyview union rejects concessions sought by county

October 15, 2013 News Extra

BUTLER TWP — Union workers at the Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday rejected concessions sought by Butler County.

Out of the roughly 200 workers, 139 voted. Of those, 134 opposed reopening an existing four-year pact with SEIU Healthcare to accept the county’s concessions.

Tamara Lefcowitz, SEIU Healthcare organizer, said the employees deemed 11 pages of concessions to be unreasonable.

“They’re saying no, that doesn’t work,” she said.

Lefcowitz said she’s never encountered an employer wanting such an extensive list of concessions, even when negotiating a new contract.

“It’s essentially a wish list,” she said.

County officials maintain the contract, which will end Dec. 31, 2014, and includes 3 percent pay hikes in each year, must be reopened to save money.

Sunnyview is budgeted to lose $1.5 million this year. However, $450,000 of that deficit is for a balloon payment on a 30-year bond that funded renovations in the 1980s.

The nursing home lost more than $800,000 in 2012.

Commissioner Bill McCarrier, board chairman, said he was disappointed with the vote.

“We hoped they would go for that,” he said.

Neither union nor county officials would divulge what the specific concessions, but they confirmed wages and employees’ contribution to receive health benefits were among the issues.

Insured county workers have 1.5 percent of their salaries deducted from each paycheck.

Lefcowitz said the workers are willing to compromise on wages and health care contributions.

“We are not far apart,” she said.

According to Lefcowitz, the county doesn’t need all the concessions to make Sunnyview financially viable — a goal the union shares.