WVa hospital employees get raises, must pay health premiums

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A three-year contract ratified by union maintenance and service workers at a West Virginia hospital includes annual wage increases but requires them to begin paying health insurance premiums starting in 2023.

Members of the Service Employees International Union District 119 on Wednesday ratified the contract covering more than 900 workers at Cabell Huntington Hospital, ending a month-old strike.

Under the terms of the contract released by the union, the workers will receive an annual 2% pay increase. An additional 2% boost was added onto the wage scale along with an increase in the shift differential.

Employees will receive free health care until Jan. 1, 2023, when they will start to pay biweekly premiums. Union workers can get that premium lowered through annual health assessments.

Retirees will have to pay $125 per month for the hospital’s insurance plan starting next April. They can choose to receive $250 to purchase a supplemental plan. Prescription discounts were extended to retirees to help offset the cost unpaid by Medicare.

“Our members stood proudly in solidarity on the strike line and beat back concession after concession,” union regional director Sherri McKinney said in a statement. “These healthcare heroes deserve way more than what this hospital finally offered, but we are celebrating the victories that were won.”

The hospital said in a statement that employees could likely begin returning to work as soon as Friday.