Nurses at Liberty Medical Center staged an hourlong strike yesterday morning just before negotiators reached a new two-year labor contract with the Baltimore hospital.
About 70 nurses picketed at the facility from 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. before hearing that a tentative contract had been reached in a 23-hour bargaining session at the Pikesville Hilton.
The key issue for the Professional Staff Nurses Association was an improved pension plan, since more than half the nurses will be eligible to retire within the next 10 years. The new agreement, effective July 1, will not deduct Social Security benefits from the pension paid by the hospital, changing that long-standing provision.
The union also won the right to contract for its own health insurance, which business agent Larry Grosser said would reduce nurses' contributions.
Pay was not a major issue, he said, since the Liberty nurses have the second-highest scale in the state (next to Dimension health system in Prince George's County). Under the contract, basic hourly rates will range from $14 to $20.75.
PSNA members will vote on the tentative contract Thursday. It was the first Liberty contract for the union, which split with the Maryland Nurses Association last year.
Alma Roberts, Liberty vice president for corporate development, said the brief nurses' strike had no effect on hospital operations.