The staff from four Spectrum-owned nursing homes gathered at their former picket line in Hartford Thursday to announce they will be returning to work next week.

The strike at four Spectrum homes, Park Place Health Center in Hartford, Birmingham Health Center in Derby, Hilltop Health Center in Ansonia and Laurel Hill Healthcare in Winsted, ended this week after more than a year when the company agreed to hire back all of the striking workers under a new contract.

The new three year contract was approved 189 to 6 by Service Employees International Union District 1199 members and it ends a National Labor Relations Board complaint against the nursing home owner.

Spectrum agreed to pay $395,000 to cover the losses sustained by participants in the strike and $150,000 for a group of workers that were fired. The union maintained that several workers were fired because of their union activity, but Spectrum officials said the board only agreed to take up a handful of those complaints.

“They told us we were all permanently replaced and we’d never be back,” said Valrey Johnson, a cook at the Park Place Health Center, said. “Yet next Monday we’ll return to our positions, caring for the residents we’ve missed so much, with strength and unity in our hearts.”

“That alone is a victory,” said Patty Pickus, a licensed practical nurse. “But we’re also returning with new contracts and with justice for our co-workers who were named in the Labor Board’s complaint because Spectrum fired them.”

The settlement ends the National Labor Relations Board complaint filed in February.

Click here for more background on that issue.

The new contract workers agreed to this week includes a 0.5 percent increase in Spectrum’s contribution to the pension fund, a one percent increase in contributions to employees’ health benefits for workers at the Torrington facility, and wage increases and bonuses totaling 6 percent over three years.

“In the midst of a terrible economy and in the face of persistent threats from your employer that you would lose your jobs permanently, you had the courage to stand up for yourselves and by so doing, for higher standards for all nursing home workers and residents,” Carmen Boudier, president of SEIU District 1199, said.

Click here to read more about the solidarity movement in Ansonia and Derby last July in the midst of the battle between SEIU and Spectrum.