Workers at WMC have a new contract

WEIRTON – Unionized workers at Weirton Medical Center have a new three-year deal.

Officials with Service Employees International Union District 1199 say the agreement, which takes effect Oct. 1, “provides for annual wage increases, improved health and safety provisions and recognizes the value of organized labor at one of the community’s premier health care institutions.” They declined to offer specifics, however, saying only that details of the contract “remain confidential.”

“It was a relatively fast negotiation,” said Anthony Caldwell, SEIU communications director. “I think the best way to characterize it would be to remember three years ago, when we had a lot of issues reaching what we considered a fair and equitable contract. The last time workers were concerned about concessions and layoffs; this time, there’s a guaranteed wage increase, improved health and safety language and some job security language in the contract.”

Hospital administrators also are “happy about the ratification of the contract,” Kelli McCoy, WMC director of communications, said Monday.

“The relationship between the hospital and the union is one we value greatly and one which has experienced great strides in the past several months,” she agreed. “We are excited to continue moving forward as a hospital and the union is a large part of the great success we are experiencing right now and will continue experiencing,”

Administrative Organizer Terri Tamborello said the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying the contract. While the numbers themselves aren’t being released, she said the results prove that “workers stand committed to working with hospital management to do all that they can to keep Weirton Medical Center the beacon of quality care and family-sustaining jobs this community relies on.”

“We don’t report vote numbers, but I can tell you that it was overwhelming in support and nearly unanimous,” Caldwell added.

The two sides were at the bargaining table for roughly three months, he said.

SEIU District 1199 covers West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio and represents about 550 employees at Weirton Medical Center, including full- and part-time skilled maintenance employees as well as full- and part-time service and unskilled employees and full- and part-time practical nurses and technical employees.