Union OKs hospital contract

July 01, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Union workers Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a new four-year contract with Chambersburg Hospital, according to union representatives.

The vote was 511-89, with about half of the 1,200 union hospital workers voting in favor of the package, according to Teresa Fox, a physical therapy assistant and local president for District 1199P of the Service Employees International Union.

Employees will receive 4 percent pay increases during the first year of the contract, followed by 3 percent raises during each of the following three years, Fox said. Registered nurses will get 4.5 percent raises in the first year "to help with retention," Fox said.

The nurses, housekeepers, laundry, dietary and other rank-and-file members covered by the contract will be paying more for medical insurance. Full- and part-time workers with five years of experience will still have their health insurance paid for by the hospital, but the cost of family coverage will increase considerably, according to Joyce McGhee, a registered nurse and a member of the union's executive board.


Co-payments for doctor visits will increase from $5 to $20 and the co-payment for a generic prescription will increase from $5 to $10. Co-payments for brand name and some other medications also will increase, she said.

Language was inserted in the contract to address one of the union's major concerns, mandatory overtime and staffing, Fox said. Managers will be asked to limit mandatory overtime to "emergency situations and in response to unanticipated critical needs," Fox said.

"I think it will help," she said.

A professional practice committee also will be established to deal with mandatory overtime and staffing issues, she said.

A change in the pension plan will allow retirement to be calculated on the 10 highest consecutive years of a person's employment, McGhee said. Previously, retirement was calculated on the last 10 years of employment.

The change could allow some employees to work part-time at the end of their careers without their retirement benefits being adversely affected, she said.

The union and hospital negotiating teams reached a tentative agreement at about 7 a.m. Tuesday following an 18-hour session. On June 15, union members voted to approve a strike notice if an agreement was not reached before midnight Wednesday.

Details of the tentative contract were presented to union members Wednesday at the Hampton Inn, where the voting took place.

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