Negotiations between management at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington and health care workers represented by SEIU 1199 broke down on Wednesday, resulting in a strike by approximately 1,000 of those workers.
Both hospital management and union representatives issued statements on the strike, giving drastically opposed opinions on what each side offered and rejected.
Tim Martin, Chief Operating Officer at Cabell Huntington Hospital, was quoted as saying “We are disappointed that the comprehensive offer made by the hospital to the members of SEIU District 1199 Service was not ratified yesterday. Cabell Huntington Hospital has worked in good faith since August, throughout the demands of COVID, to reach a fair contract with a generous package of benefits.”
According to Martin, the hospital’s offer included a 3% annual wage increase and shift differentials. Also included was an agreement by the hospital to continue annual automatic contribution into eligible employees’ retirement accounts. On the request side, the hospital asked that employees begin paying affordable and below market health insurance premiums, though the hospital would continue to pay 90% of health care costs for employees and their dependents.
“The hospital has a duty to our patients and the community to provide quality health care 24 hours a day, every day and we will honor that commitment by continuing continue that care with minimal disruption,” Martin said in a statement. “We have made arrangements for trained, screened and qualified service workers to assist in the event of a strike. Patients coming to Cabell Huntington Hospital or to Marshall Health are asked to use Medical Center Drive, which is the main entrance to the hospital, and use the parking garage. Patients needing access to the Emergency Department would use the entrance just off Hal Greer Boulevard.”
Joyce Gibson, Secretary/Treasurer of SEIU/1199, released the following statement on Tuesday, highlighting the union’s views on the negotiations: “Late Monday evening, workers at Cabell Huntington Hospital were given a last, best, and final offer from management. Cabell has committed multiple unfair labor practice charges and continues to harass and threaten union members.”
Gibson released another statement on Nov. 3 when workers at Cabell Huntington decided to go on strike.
“This comes after months of negotiations with the executives at CHH, who have repeatedly made it clear that they value profits over workers and patients,” Gibson said in the statement. “This conflict comes after decades of successful contract negotiations with previous hospital administrations, but clearly these executives have decided that they will be prioritizing profits over care, staffing, retention and dignity. They are paying contracted outside workers who are not invested in our community, rather than take care of their dedicated long-term employees. This is very unfortunate this hospital would refuse to invest into this community and their dedicated employees who have worked tirelessly through this pandemic taking care of you and your families, and now unable to take care of themselves.”