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Lehigh County Must Reimburse Nursing Home Workers Denied Raises

According to the Easton Express Times Lehigh County must reimburse a total of $357,600 to about 200 employees who were improperly denied 2011 wage increases.
The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the union representing nurses and human services employees at Cedarbrook Nursing Home stating the county violated state law in denying the raises.
In the 15-page ruling the board stated four Lehigh County Commissioners said the reason behind eliminating the raises was to send a message to the unions who would be negotiating in 2011 for their collective bargaining agreements.
The denial of raises came when the county had to increase taxes by 16 percent to balance the budget. The labor board noted that despite the financial problems, the county used new tax revenue for pay increases for non-union employees while denying increases for union employees.
The county countered that the move was an attempt to bring equality between the union and non-union employees, but that argument did not sway the hearing examiner.
The county could appeal the decision but the commissioners voted against appealing.
According to the Express Times about $70,000 will be reimbursed by the state and the rest will come from the county’s general fund.