FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- More than 300 union workers at Fairmont General Hospital would begin paying part of their health benefit premiums under a new contract with Fairmont General Hospital.
The three-year contract also freezes wage increases for a year. It covers hospital employees who are members of the Service Employees International Union 1199.
Union members approved the new contract last week, The Times-West Virginian reported. It also must be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wheeling.
Fairmont General filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early September. There also was an administrative shakeup as the president and CEO, chief financial officer and vice president of human resources left.
"That's a very unusual situation to be in," Jason Ware, an administrative organizer for the union, told the newspaper.
Ware said that the contract contains a clause that wages can be renegotiated in a year if the hospital's situation improves.
The health benefit issue can be revisited in two years, said Ware and Kevin Carr, the hospital's attorney.
"I think it was mixed emotions about it," said Terri Walker, a registered nurse at the hospital. "Because of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I guess we knew we had limitations and we knew we needed to do whatever it took to keep the hospital open."
About 170 to 180 support services and maintenance employees are represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 550. That union contract was renewed last year.