PLATTSBURGH The administration at CVPH Medical Center and members of SEIU Local 1199 have agreed upon a new three-year contract for the union. In an announcement made May 9, the two parties expressed their satisfaction with the agreement which will affect the local unions 1,200 employees. The union is comprised of licensed practical nurses, physical therapy assistants, medical technicians, and nutrition and service workers. Roger James, a biomedical engineer who chairs the local 1199, said negotiations began in January and wrapped up in March and were the best sessions he has participated in since first being involved in the process in 1997. Were all very pleased with the progress we made with the contract, said James. Its a very good contract for the employees here at CVPH and we feel it has been a very win-win situation for both of us. The main issue under discussion in the contract negotiations, said James, was the issue of employee pension plans. The union was facing the elimination of its pension plan by the hospital administration, which was examining switching employees to a 403(b) retirement plan. The employee-based plan would require the union workers to set aside their own contributions, which, for some, would be difficult to do, he said. The negotiations finally rested in favor of the union, with the hospital administration understanding the importance of the pension plan to the employees, said Patrick Sullivan, community organizer for SEIU 1199. Under the contract, the employees will receive a 3 percent across-the-board raise over the next three years and have the ability to receive a patient-oriented wage incentive. The incentive program, said Sullivan, is intended to benefit the employees and the hospital as it is determined by results from patient satisfaction surveys. We can be thankful for the wisdom and the resources the hospital management team, led by Stephens [Mundy, hospital administrator] on down, brought to the table, said Sullivan. This just continues to make our union the number one union in the state and, at the same time, make this hospital the number one place to work in this region, if not, in the state. Noreen Brady, vice president of CVPH human resources, said the contract will better allow the hospital to retain and recruit employees and ultimately benefit patients. This is significant for the medical center, its significant for our employees and we think its significant for the community, Brady said. Were always striving to be the very best we can and I think this contract helps us with doing the right thing for our employees and thats what its all about. The three-year contract for local 1199 will expire April 30, 2011.