HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Cabell Huntington Hospital union workers, who are on strike, spoke before the Huntington City Council Monday in favor of a resolution that asks for the hospital to end the strike in good faith.
The resolution was sponsored by councilman Bob Bailey.
Bailey told 13 News that the city’s legal team wouldn’t allow it to go on the agenda when he first tried to introduce it, because it would appear that the City was being partial to the union workers.
On Monday, dozens of SEIU 1199 union workers gathered to support three of the union workers who signed up to give public comment.
According to SEIU 1199 district organizer, Sherri McKinney, they have not been able to reach an agreement with CHH despite the holidays being around the corner and the strike becoming the longest in history for the hospital at 19 days.
“The mediator called the parties back together, we made a modified proposal, we changed our proposal that went back to them on Monday, on that Tuesday morning they came back and the hospital came back with a proposal that was worse than what the hospital workers decided to walk out on,” said McKinney.
Two of the three hospital workers who signed up to speak gave public comment and said they are community members too, and that they are not asking for anything more than what they had.
“This hospital prospered and we want prosper, we’re just trying to pay our bills and not get turned over to a collection agency,” said one worker.
“They have disrespected and humiliated and taken our dignity away, they’ve pulled all of their insurance away to where we have no insurance right now,” said another worker at the podium.
If the hospital does not reach an agreement with the union soon, councilman Pat Jones said he will attempt to introduce the resolution again before the council during the next meeting.
In a statement to 13 News, a spokesperson with Cabell Huntington Hospital wrote:
“We have not seen the language of the resolution, but we want to assure members of City Council and the community that Cabell Huntington Hospital has bargained in good faith since August. Between August and Nov. 9, we have met with the union over a dozen times and exchanged more than 50 proposals. We have not received a counter proposal or even a response to our last proposal made on Nov. 9.”
The full resolution language reads:
Resolution in Support of the Service and Maintenance Unit Employees of Cabell Huntington Hospital
Whereas: Cabell Huntington Hospital employees work every day on behalf of our community and provide critical care and health services for the patients of Cabell Huntington Hospital, and
Whereas: The employees of Cabell Huntington Hospital are on currently on strike with management and are fighting for quality care, safe staffing, wages that allow them to provide for their families, and equitable insurance coverage, and
Whereas: Cabell Huntington Hospital entered into a $165M transaction to acquire St. Mary’s Medical Center in 2018, and
Whereas: The hospital has hired out of state unqualified and trained workers who are not invested into our community of Huntington WV.
Whereas: Financial statements show that Cabell Huntington Hospital’s finances are sound with ample levels of revenue and net income following the acquisition of St. Mary’s Medical Center, and
Whereas: The employees of Cabell Huntington Hospital are heroes in our community and serve the people of Huntington and visitors from across our region; and
Therefore be it Resolved: That, as a Cabell County City Council, I stand in solidarity with the employees of Cabell Huntington Hospital in support of ending the strike and bargain in good faith a fair and equitable contract, that recognizes the work of our local heroes at our community hospital.
Be It Further Resolved: That I pledge as City Council Members to Cabell Huntington Hospital to negotiate in good faith and help to reach an agreement that recognizes the work of our local heroes.