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Contract accord reached at Chambersburg Hospital

June 27, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Hospital union workers voted in favor of ratifying a new three-year contract Thursday night, heading off a threatened strike.

The final vote, 233 in favor of the contract and 8 against, came in at 9 p.m. after nearly 17 hours of bargaining on Tuesday and Wednesday and hours of meetings Thursday between the union and hospital management, said Eileen Connelly, secretary-treasurer and chief negotiator of District 1199P/Service Employees International Union.

There were more than 650 hospital employees eligible to vote on the contract. The union represents a total of 900 workers at the hospital.

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The current contract expires on Monday. Negotiations began April 1.

"I think that both the union members and the hospital management feel good about the settlement," Connelly said. "This is a positive step for the future."

"The hospital is delighted and believes this represents a good and fair contract for all of our employees and for the hospital," said Sheran White, hospital spokeswoman.

Two weeks ago, union members voted to send an official strike notice to management when the two parties couldn't agree on some issues, mainly focusing on job security.

Though the new contract doesn't make any promises, it does give union members some recourse in terms of keeping their jobs, Connelly said.

Under the new contract, hospital management must give the union two months notice before they subcontract non-union employees to work in departments like housekeeping, dietary and laundry.

Non-union workers will be sent home first on so-called slow patient days, according to the new contract.

Improvements also were made in employee scheduling, awarding jobs to those with seniority, and in the career movements and coinciding pay scales for the hospital's nursing and pharmaceutical staff.

The new contract also gives union workers a 3 percent pay raise the first year, 3 percent the second year, 2 percent the third year, and 2 percent effective Jan. 8, 2000.

Ratification bonuses of $1,000 to full-time and $500 to part-time union employees also will be awarded.

The union workers also get a pension improvement effective July 1 in exchange for agreeing to take unpaid half-hour lunch breaks, Connelly said.

Most health care professionals do not get paid for meal breaks, Connelly said.

Union negotiators also agreed to change their health insurance carrier from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Healthcentral Inc., a new managed care health program, Connelly said.

Chambersburg Hospital is a partner in the Healthcentral Inc. plan and union members agreed it would help to promote the plan by becoming part of it, Connelly said.

The hospital's tuition reimbursement and bereavement leave were also improved in the new contract.

The union represents 9,000 employees in 17 hospitals in Pennsylvania, including Chambersburg Hospital which has been represented since 1973.

Chambersburg Hospital and Waynesboro Hospital are owned by Summit Health.

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