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Cabell Huntington Hospital, SEIU to resume negotiations

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 7:13 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Cabell Huntington Hospital and its service workers union returned to the courtroom Tuesday morning, and next week both sides indicate they will return to the bargaining table.

Both sides issued dueling statements Tuesday afternoon as the strike continued into a 21st day. They will resume negotiations on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Cabell Huntington Hospital said for many years it has covered health care premiums at 100%. It’s now asking union members to contribute, on average, less than 5% of their families total health care costs. The hospital says the premiums are affordable and that workers are paid at the top of their market.

Service Employees International Union District #1199 disagrees. It contends the hospital is attempting to take away 10% of wages and accuses it of committing unfair labor practices.

“Nobody wants to be on strike,” SEIU #1199 Regional Director Sherri McKinney said after court Tuesday morning. “We would rather be back in the hospital, and to know that it’s only going to get colder, to know that the holidays are coming -- but this group is solid. They are committed. They say, ‘One day longer, one day stronger,’ and they’re going to stay out for as long as it takes.”

The two sides argued over a temporary restraining order in Cabell County Circuit Court. The order pertains to conduct of picketers. The union says it agrees with the majority of the court’s terms, but takes issue with attempts to control aspects of the picketers’ speech and movement.

“We just have fundamental disagreements,” McKinney said. “We have agreed on eight of the 11 terms. They already have in the TRO that we won’t be aggressive -- for lack of a better words -- fight, argue, that kind of thing, and we’re OK with that. What we’re not going to agree to is that patients can’t talk to us, or we can’t talk to patients.”

Cabell Huntington Hospital declined to speak on camera after court proceedings.

The judge scheduled a full evidentiary hearing on the restraining order for Dec. 10. In the meantime, he urged both sides to try and reach a compromise on the terms of a permanent order.

If no compromise is reached, and they need additional time in December, he will schedule another hearing for January.

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