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Report was premature on deal with nurses

Erie County Medical Center's chief executive officer has backed away from his Friday claim that the hospital reached a tentative agreement with nurses on rules designed to make the hospital more competitive.

The nurses' union called the statement premature.

"The nurses are correct," CEO Michael Young said Saturday, adding that the hospital and union had reached "a memorandum of understanding" -- not a tentative deal.

Meanwhile, union leaders are weighing whether to put the proposed work-rule changes to a vote of rank-and-file members.

"We're pulling our negotiating team together over the weekend to review the proposals on the table," Mark A. Genovese, spokesman for the New York State Nurses Association, said Saturday.

If the understanding does become a settlement, the hospital's 600 nurses would give up the equivalent of about 10 days of paid time off in return for a pay raise in 2007 and cash payments based on hours worked, ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 for full-time nurses.

That's "as much cash as we could offer" to gain work force concessions, Young said.

ECMC still expects to obtain up to $15 million in county funding to pay for givebacks from its 2,500 employees, though a condition of that funding was that the hospital settle with the nurses by Friday.

"Our understanding is that what was done Friday met the criteria for the deadline," said hospital spokesman Tom Quatroche.

ECMC still has not settled with the Civil Service Employees Association or American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, which represent about 1,900 workers.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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