Nearly 800 nurses, lab workers and service personnel at Cabell Huntington Hospital will go on strike next week if they cannot reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Representatives from Service Employees International Union District 1199 delivered the required 10-day strike notice to hospital administrators Monday, two days after union members voted to reject the company's latest offer.
Union leaders have said the offer contained no wage increases, "drastic changes" to employee health benefits and the elimination of health insurance for retired workers.
The union said workers approved millions of dollars in concessions in their last three-year contract, negotiated during more trying financial times in 2010. They say the hospital is now turning a comfortable profit, and say workers should be rewarded for their hard work.
"When the hospital was not financially stable, workers made sacrifices," Joyce Gibson, chief negotiator for the union, said over the weekend. "Now that the hospital is doing well, they don't want to share the pie."
Cabell Huntington Hospital spokesman Charles Shumaker said hospital officials have been transparent throughout the negotiating process and presented offers that allow current full and part-time employees to continue receiving generous benefits and health insurance.
"We recognize that our employees are our most valuable resource and we are proud to offer a complete range of benefits at a time when many in our industry must reduce benefits for staff," Shumaker said.
"In fact, total compensation (the combination of salaries and benefits) provided to all current and future staff will continue to remain higher than those at all other healthcare providers in West Virginia," he said.