Weirton hospital reaches tentative labor agreement with union

Associated Press, October 11, 2004

Weirton - Weirton Medical Center has reached a tentative labor agreement with a union that represents nearly 80 percent of the hospital's nurses, technical, service and maintenance employees.

Members of the Service Employees International Union District 1199 began voting on the proposed contract Monday morning, but results were not expected until late in the evening.

"We are pleased to have reached this milestone after 10 months of bargaining," said Dr. Joseph Endrick, the hospital's president and CEO. "Both negotiating teams worked especially hard ... to secure this agreement, which we believe to be fair and equitable."

Endrick said he would not comment on specifics, pending the ratification vote.

Last week, the union called off what would have been its second one-day strike in a month and returned to the bargaining table before reaching the latest accord.

While many issues were settled early in the talks, including more vacation time and a 33 percent reduction in employee health care premiums, the parties had remained at odds over the critical issue of wages.

Negotiators met for three-and-a-half hours Thursday with a federal mediator and ultimately agreed to reconvene contract talks on Friday.

The union, which won a representation election last fall and started contract talks in December, had claimed the hospital engaged in unfair labor practices and failed to bargain in good faith.

The hospital later published an ad in area newspapers, saying it waited weeks and sometimes months for counterproposals from the union.

Local 1199, based in Columbus, Ohio, represents about 23,000 health care and social service workers in Ohio, West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

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