By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Northern Montana Health Care and the union representing licensed practical nurses and other professionals at Northern Montana Care Center have agreed to a new two-year contract.
Sara Thody of Great Falls, executive officer of Local 8 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said the contract was approved by union members Thursday by a margin of about 55 percent.
"There are a few people that weren't happy with it but it got ratified," she said.
Not all union members voted, she said, but she declined to give the vote count.
Thody said the agreement was reached after three negotiation sessions, the last with a mediator at the request of Northern Montana Health Care.
"We were not at an impasse, but they requested mediation," she added.
Kathleen Richardson, general counsel for Northern Montana Health Care, said the contract applies to about 120 workers at the care center. They include certified nurse's assistants, licensed practical nurses, activities aides, people working in the kitchen and in food preparations, and people who care for the building and grounds.
Thody said 95 of the care center workers are members of the union that negotiated the contract.
Both Richardson and Thody declined to discuss details about the care center contract.
Thody said the contract includes a small pay increase, and no benefits were taken away. Some changes in the language of the contract were also made, she said, including providing an opportunity for representatives of the union to talk to newly hired employees about the union.
That was a compromise on one of the issues during negotiations. Thody said the union wanted to require workers at the care center to join the union.
The other main sticking point was on the wages for the workers, she said.