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Fulton hospital workers sign contract

December 07, 1999|By DON AINES

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - The Fulton County Medical Center and the union representing 260 of its employees hammered out a two-year contract last week, according to center and union officials.

The contract gives members of the Service Employees International Union a 1 percent pay hike in the first year and 2 percent in the second. Negotiating teams reached an agreement at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30, just as the existing contract expired, and the rank and file voted to ratify the deal later that day, according to Robert Murray, the center's CEO.

"When you have a difficult negotiation there never seems to be any winners," Murray said Tuesday.

The center initially offered a three-year contract with a wage freeze the first year and a 1.5 percent increase in the second, according to union official Jeff Walker. The union at first asked for 6 percent increases each year over three years, Walker said last month.

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"After management compromised on many issues, we made significant improvements in our contract," Licensed Practical Nurse and Union Chapter President Diane Snow said in a press release. The contract covers nurses, medical, laboratory, X-ray technologists, clerical, maintenance and other workers.

Concessions by the hospital included time-and-a-half pay for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, restrictions on the number of shifts employees can be required to work and advanced notification on mandatory overtime, the union press release said.

"We settled for a 1 percent wage increase for this year to keep our doors open," Registered Nurse Kim Harnish said in the union news release.

Murray said he would have liked to have given larger pay hikes, but the center lost two surgeons and two physicians in the past year. That contributed to a loss of revenue at the center, he said.

"We're planning, as I hope the union is, to put some of the bad feelings behind us," Murray said.

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