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HOSPITAL, UNION REACH TENTATIVE ACCORD

Negotiators for Mount St. Mary's Hospital and the union representing nurses and medical technicians reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract early this morning.

The agreement between the hospital and the 175-member Service Employees International Union Local 1199 Upstate was reached during a marathon negotiating session lasting nearly 24 hours, according to Marcia M. Traverse, hospital spokeswoman.

Hospital officials refused to release terms of the agreement until it is presented to union members Wednesday for a vote.

Angelo G. Calbone, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, today said he is relieved and happy with the agreement, which he believes will provide long-term stability for the hospital.

The hospital said that reaching the accord will limit disruptions for patients facing surgery this week.

Monday afternoon, Calbone identified the three main issues as wages, mandatory overtime and length of the contract. He said the hospital brought a proposal to the table Monday morning that covered many of the issues.

Union leaders had announced Sunday that a vote would be taken Wednesday on whether to strike, picket or stage some other form of work stoppage if contract talks with the hospital were not settled by then. If an action were approved, it would be scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Friday.

Representatives of the union could not be reached to comment this morning.

Calbone said the union wanted a six-month agreement that would expire at the same time as the contract of the service and maintenance employees, the only other bargaining unit at the hospital. The contract length has been a sticking point with the hospital throughout the negotiations, he said. The hospital wanted a three-year contract.

Hospital executives made it clear that much is at stake in the contract talks.

Calbone Monday warned that the hospital is losing money on a month-to-month basis and that a strike of any significant length has the potential for dealing a fatal blow to Mount St. Mary's, which, like other hospitals in Western New York, is struggling to stay afloat.

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