Cabell Huntington Hospital union workers rejected a contract pro - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Cabell Huntington Hospital union workers reject contract proposal; Negotiations continue

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Members of SEIU 1199, the Service Employees International Union, which represents 800 licensed practical nurses, lab workers, service and maintenance personnel at Cabell Huntington Hospital, voted to reject the hospital's most recent contract proposal.

The workers announced plans to issue a 10-day strike notice Nov. 4, but CHH's Media and Community Relations Manager Charles Shumaker said the hospital will continue to negotiate with the union and hopes to come to a resolution "very soon."

The strike, if it happens, would be effective Nov. 15.

"We firmly believe that we have offered a fair and generous contract to our workers," Shumaker said in a weekend statement.

A statement from the union said the hospital's offer had no wage increases, changes to employee health benefits and the elimination of health insurance for retired employees.

"In 2010, workers gave back millions in concessions on their pension and health care, but executive salaries are going up and have increased over the past three years," Joyce Gibson, director of healthcare with SEIU District 1199 and chief negotiator said in a statement. "Shame on them. When the hospital was not financially stable, workers made sacrifices.

"Now that the hospital is doing well, they don't want to share the pie."

For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2011, Cabell Huntington Hospital's revenues exceeded expenses by about $7.2 million, but because of various items related to investments and pension liabilities, the hospital's net assets that year decreased by $12.3 million to $91.6 million.

A hospital statement Nov. 1 said every three years when a new labor agreement is negotiated, it's a process "we approach with great care and respect to carry out discussions with staff at the bargaining table, and not in the media."

The statement said CHH provides its employers with benefits that are among the most generous in the region, including a no-cost, high-quality defined benefit pension plan for the majority of employees, a health care plan for full-time employees without any out-of-pocket contributions from employees and wage increases.