By GRACE WYLER
Forum Health’s largest union approved an agreement with Community Health Systems on Monday night, paving the way for the company’s likely acquisition of the bankrupt hospital system later this week.
Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents more than 1,200 registered nurses and workers at Trumbull Memorial Hospital and Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital, voted overwhelmingly to ratify the union’s contracts with CHS, union officials said.
“We are very pleased with the outcome,” said Deborah Bindas, a spokeswoman with AFSCME Ohio Council 8. “We are tired of being in the eye of the tornado — all of our workers are just excited to get back to work.”
The AFSCME agreements, which cover Forum’s three AFSCME locals, largely mirror the union’s contracts with Forum with a few major concessions, Bindas said, including a new health-care plan and a wage freeze.
The union was successful in ensuring contract extensions to provide a “getting-to-know-you” period between union officials and CHS, Bindas said. The TMH nurses’ contract, which had been set to expire Oct. 31, has been extended until 2012, and the other contracts will not expire until 2013.
AFSCME is the last of Forum’s three unions to ratify an agreement with CHS. The Ohio Nurses Association and the Service Workers International Union District 1199 approved their contracts last week.
CHS, a Tennessee-based hospital company, expects to complete its $120 million purchase of the Forum system Friday.