By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- Massena Memorial Hospital's union employees overwhelming voted to accept a three-year wage freeze, MMH CSEA president Wayne Lincoln said at Thursday's town board meeting.
Lincoln said CSEA voted in favor 172-4. The head of the MMH nurse's union said their members voted 72-3 in favor. That's a combined total of 244-7.
The union approved signing a tentative agreement and ratifying a contract, if ongoing negotiations go well, Lincoln said. He added that the deal freezes everything except health insurance.
Union leaders said 82 percent of CSEA members and 75 percent of unionized nurses voted.
"It says a lot, no question," Councilman John Macaulay said.
The three-year wage freeze was proposed by the union as a measure to remain viable in the face of potential bankruptcy.
Massena Supervisor Joseph Gray said there is to be a closed-door meeting today that includes MMH administration, organized labor heads and town officials. He said they will be "updating each other … get a better handle on where we might be" with delving further into MMH's financial state.
Citing a $3.5 million loss last year and a report that says they will be bankrupt before the end of the decade, the hospital is looking at going from a town entity to a private non-profit.
The town board has called for administration to look for an alternative to privatization, which includes propositions for operating as a town entity while cutting enough to stave off bankruptcy, to the tune of several million dollars per year.