Illinois union, nursing homes reach tentative agreement

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Nursing home operators and the union representing more than 7,000 nursing assistants came to a tentative agreement last week after more than five months of contract negotiations.

The Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities (IAHCF), which represents the owners of 115 Illinois nursing homes serving some 18,000 residents in Illinois, and Local 4 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said the tentative agreement would provide workers with an immediate wage increase of 30 cents an hour, effective May 1, plus an additional 40 cents an hour increase effective on an employee's anniversary date in 2005.

Also, the tentative agreement would give workers hourly increases of 45 cents and 40 cents on their anniversary dates in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Workers with 15 or more years of service would get an additional wage premium. The union was asking for increases of nearly $2 per hour for assistants currently making an average of about $9 per hour, or about $18,000 annually.

The proposed deal also would provide some pharmaceutical assistance for the first time but cut back on employer contributions to health coverage in some areas.

The members of the IAHCF are set to vote on the tentative agreement. The union's ratification voted is expected by the end of this week.

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