MCT REGIONAL NEWS
By Cassie Shaner
The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
Dec. 24--AFL-CIO Local 814 filed charges Friday accusing WVU Hospitals (WVUH) of violating federal labor laws as the union prepared for an impending strike.
Local 814 Business Manager Sherri Dezzutti said WVUH officials called union workers into "captive audience" meetings late Wednesday and early Thursday, during which they were told they could lose their benefits -- and even their jobs -- if they go on strike next week.
She said WVUH officials also distributed forms that would allow union workers to resign from Local 814.
"That's illegal, and it needs to stop now," Dezzutti said.
Dezzutti said the union worked with its attorneys to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board. She contacted WVUH President and CEO Bruce McClymonds by e-mail to share her concerns, but had not yet received a response by Thursday afternoon.
Charlotte Bennett, vice president of human resources for WVUH, disputed Dezzutti's claims in a statement provided to The Dominion Post.
"There have been no meetings with union employees about the labor dispute," she said. "We have provided information to employees when they have asked questions. We have conducted all interactions with union members professionally and within the laws that govern labor disputes."
Local 814 issued its 10-day strike notice Tuesday, following stalled contract negotiations with WVUH officials. Union members rejected a proposed three-year contract agreement last week, and they plan to strike at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, if an agreement is not reached before then.
The union's existing fiveyear contract expires on New Year's Eve.