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NHS Human Services

nhs-new-logo.jpg Management and employees of Pennsylvania’s leading provider of behavioral health care work as equal partners in providing care that respects the humanity of every patient.

In Partnership With: AFSCME, AFT, SEIU, SPFPA

Dignity and respect for workers fosters quality patient care

At a Glance

NHS Human Services is a leading nonprofit provider of community-based behavioral healthcare and other human services in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Lafayette Hill, PA


Behavioral Healthcare and Human Services

Union Employees
2,400 healthcare professionals

Total Employees

Annual Revenues
$250 million

415 sites throughout NJ, OH, PA, and VA


50,000 adults and children

Ethics, excellent care, and respect for every patient are the hallmark values for NHS Human Services (NHS), a Philadelphia-based behavioral healthcare provider.  That's why the company welcomed the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 13 in March 2005 as an equal partner in providing quality care.

NHS employees are committed to understanding and abiding by all laws and regulations concerning healthcare service delivery.  In an effort to exceed the minimum requirements of the law, management and employees created a compliance program that ensures both quality and compassionate care.  For its efforts, NHS received the 2005 “Best Compliance Practices Award” from Health Ethics Trust, a division of the Council of Ethical Organizations.

This partnership represents a significant change in labor-management relations for NHS.  Faced with a financial crisis in 2000, newly-appointed CEO Joe Rocks, a former Pennsylvania State Senator, began working toward a positive relationship with labor as a central part of his financial turnaround plan.  One of the key components included adopting a neutrality agreement allowing employees a free and fair choice to join a union.

For Rocks, partnering with employees’ unions was a natural choice.  “We share the same goals and objectives: patient care, service quality, retention of employees, a living wage, and compliance practices,” says Rocks.  “We are creating an environment where people want to work for us.”  The results were notable: turnover decreased from 38 percent to 36 percent, and employee retention increased from an average of 24 to 27 months—an encouraging sign that employees are more committed to the company.

At NHS, respect for workers translates into quality care for patients.  The partnership gives NHS employees a voice in their workplace, which leads to greater employee satisfaction and continuity of care, according to David Fillman, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13.

Michele Owens, a 22-year veteran of NHS and President of AFSCME Local 1439, has seen a change for the better since the start of the partnership.  “There are a lot of positive things that are happening in having that contract.  It has protected people’s rights,” says Owens.  “Both sides are growing in understanding what the contract means and I think that’s a very good thing.”

Selection Criteria

> Free and fair chance to form a union

> Collaborating as equal partners with workers and their unions to craft innovative strategies on compensation, performance, and productivity to meet business goals and address challenges

> Protecting workers' safety and health

> Providing sustainable wages or progressive increases and worker-friendly benefits

> Protecting workers’ safety and health

> Offering training and professional
development opportunities

> Contributing positively to the broader