Hospital workers agree to new contract

  • By Linda Metz February 4, 2013

Union service and maintenance workers at Washington Hospital voted Monday night to ratify a new three-year contract.

Ninety-two percent of the more than 400 Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania members voted in favor of the new contract following a marathon 30-hour bargaining session, said Karen Gownley, SEIU spokeswoman.

“It was a long night, with both sides compromising and negotiating hard,” said Deb Jordan, who works in housekeeping. “But we’re happy that we were able to avoid a strike, and that we union workers maintained quality jobs, which we know is key to providing quality care.”

The agreement includes affordable health care and raises of 5.5 percent over the next three years.

Brenda Fields, union executive board member, said workers were happy to hold the line on health care premiums and deductibles. “Overall, we think it’s a fair contract,” she stated.

The hospital and the union have been negotiating a new contract since the previous three-year pact expired Jan. 31.

On Jan. 28, union members voted to give a Feb. 12 strike notice after 98 percent of the membership voted to reject management’s last contract offer.

The union represents about one-third of the hospital’s 1,700 employees.

When union members held a rally at Alpine Lanes last week, Zach Zobrist, vice president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said he and other members of the union’s negotiating team had been holding lengthy sessions with hospital management on a daily basis.

The union has said sticking points in negotiations include the hospital’s request for new health care deductibles, higher premiums and reduced starting salaries for many positions.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.


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