Maintenance, service workers strike at WVa hospital

November 3, 2021 GMT

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Maintenance and service union workers at a West Virginia hospital went on strike Wednesday after their contract expired.

About 1,000 members of the the Service Employees International Union District 1999 walked off the job at noon at Cabell Huntington Hospital, one of the largest employers in Huntington.

In a statement, union district secretary-treasurer Joyce Gibson said hospital officials “have repeatedly made it clear that they value profits over workers and patients.”

Cabell Huntington Chief Operating Officer Tim Martin said the hospital was disappointed that workers rejected a wage and benefits offer.

“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,” Martin said in a statement.

The hospital’s offer included 3% average annual wage increases, increased shift differentials, an enhanced uniform allowance and continued automatic annual contributions to eligible employees’ retirement accounts.

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Service employees also were asked to begin paying health insurance premiums. Under the hospital’s latest offer, it would have contributed more than 90% of health care costs for employees and their dependents.

Martin said replacement service workers are now assisting with daily hospital operations.

Gibson said the hospital is “paying contracted outside workers who are not invested in our community, rather than take care of their dedicated long-term employees.”