Nurses hold ‘strike empowerment vote’ in Huntington

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Huntington, WV (WOWK) -Nurses with Cabell Huntington Hospital are holding a strike empowerment vote at the DoubleTree Hotel in the Jewel City today, Friday, Oct. 30 and tomorrow, Sat. Oct. 31.

The nurses and hospital executives have been negotiating over the past nine months for a fair and equitable contract that protects quality care, according to the Service Employees International Union District 1199. Joyce Gibson, Secretary-Treasurer with SEIU District 1199, says the vote will empower the nurses’ negotiating committee to authorize a 10-day strike notice if necessary.

“These nurses are taking a vote to empower their negotiating committee to authorize a 10-day strike notice if needed. They continue to call on hospital leaders to improve staffing ratios and stop the benefit cuts that are our hurting our families,” said Gibson. 

In the past year, Cabell Huntington Hospital received more than $70 million in CARES Act funding and St. Mary’s Medical Center spent more than $10 million to acquire the Huntington Internal Medicine Group, the union said.

“Having a Union has allowed us to have a voice for ourselves and our patients in the area of patient care. We have over 1,000 nurses represented within our bargaining unit and nurses with Cabell Huntington Hospital are united for quality care on behalf of the communities we serve,” said Derek Bradley, a critical care nurse in the ICU unit at Cabell Huntington Hospital. 

According to the union, health insurance costs have increased for nurses at the hospital. They also claim negotiators want nurses to assume additional costs for short-term disability benefits and reduce sick leave benefits. The union says hospital staffing is also a “critical point of contention” in the negotiations.

“Nurses with Cabell Huntington Hospital have always been heroes in our community and they continue to speak out for good jobs and quality care,” said Gibson. “These nurses need increased staffing ratios to protect quality care at the hospital, especially for critical patient care units. Since Mountain Health took over, nurses have also been leaving the hospital system due to extreme health care cost and concessionary changes in workplace benefits.”

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