MCT REGIONAL NEWS
By Cassie Shaner
The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
Dec. 29--A new contract agreement proposed by AFL-CIO Laborers Local 814 and WVU Hospitals (WVUH) officials includes changes in pay, benefits and disciplinary rules that may stop a Saturday strike.
Union workers will learn more about the proposal today, during two-hour information sessions hosted by Local 814 officials at Ruby Memorial Hospital. It's also posted online at WVUH's intranet site for employees who can't attend.
Local 814 Business Manager Sherri Dezzutti said union members will likely agree to the proposal Thursday, when voting takes place from 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
"I feel comfortable that the majority of the membership will like the changes," Dezzutti said. "There will still be some that don't. There are still some things I don't like, but can I live with it? Yes. ... We didn't get everything we asked for, but we got a significant change, which is good for the membership."
The new three-year agreement -- which must be approved by a simple majority of the members voting to pass -- includes hourly pay raises of 50 cents in 2011, 40 cents in 2012 and 35 cents in 2013 for full-time employees, Dezzutti said.
Health care costs will increase by 25 cents an hour during the contract's first year only. But Dezzutti said that amount will be reduced to 9 cents for employees who get flu shots, have their blood pressure checked and meet other wellness program requirements.
WVUH President and CEO Bruce McClymonds said the net pay increase for union workers will vary, but it will exceed the 8.6 percent previously offered by WVUH officials.
Employees who leave work early without a manager's approval will receive a written warning for the first offense. Progressive disciplinary action will be taken for subsequent offenses, but Dezzutti said language was added to make sure managers allow employees to leave early for personal emergencies and other urgent matters.