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Nurses take 75-minute walk at Liberty Medical

THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN

A strike by registered nurses at the Liberty Medical Center in Baltimore ended in a tentative settlement today after just 75 minutes of picketing outside the hospital, at 2600 Liberty Heights Ave.

Larry Grosser, a negotiator for 260 members of the Professional Staff Nurses Association at Liberty, said the walkout by about 80 nurses ended at 8:15 a.m. after bargainers reached agreement on a new two-year contract. The pact includes options to reopen talks on wages and pensions after one year.

Nurses at Liberty "are already the highest-paid in the city, so that [wages] was not an issue in this," Grosser said.

The nurses' last contract expired June 30, but its terms were extended until today while talks continued. Major unresolved issues leading to the brief strike included pension and health benefits.

Grosser said the nurses finally won elimination of a Social Security offset in their pension. The offset had reduced retirees' pension benefits by the amount they received from Social Security. They also won a 9 to 10 percent decrease in their health insurance contributions.

The tentative agreement was to be submitted for a ratification vote next Thursday.

Hospital spokeswoman Marie Givens said the hospital management was "pleased" with the tentative agreement. The hospital has been able "to provide for appropriate wages and benefits for our employees while maintaining fiscal stability for the institution."

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