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No pact yet for nurses in Lockport

After a bargaining session of almost 22 hours, no settlement was reached Thursday in the contract dispute between Eastern Niagara Hospital and the union representing its 125 registered nurses.

"They bargained until 6:45 a.m. [Thursday] and still failed to reach agreement," said Franchelle C. Hart, spokeswoman for the union, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers East.

Hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Moore issued a statement: "Some progress was made. The hospital will continue to meet with the union's bargaining committee later this month to reach a settlement."

Hart said a federal mediator will arrange a date for further bargaining, while union leaders held informational meetings with the nurses Thursday. There was no voting, she said.

The nurses have authorized the setting of a strike deadline, but the date hasn't yet been set. By law, the union must give the hospital 10 days notice of a strike.

Issues in the talks include hospital proposals to reduce pensions and make nurses pay a greater share of health insurance premiums. Other issues are wages and whether the hospital's planned new ambulatory surgical center will be a union or nonunion workplace.

The nurses' contract expired March 31.


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