SEIU 1199: “Workers fought a long battle” to end Cabell Huntington Hospital strike

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The union representing the 900 striking Cabell Huntington Hospital workers says their members will begin returning to work as early as Friday after reaching a new contract agreement.

Sherri McKinney (Twitter)

SEIU District 1199 Regional Director Sherri McKinney told MetroNews they’re satisfied with the deal reached Wednesday, even though some of their members had to make compromises.

“Some are ecstatic, others would’ve stayed out a while longer. Some of them felt like they got treated better on the picket line than they do inside the hospital. Others are glad to be back. It’s a mixed bag of emotions,” McKinney said.

Employees in the maintenance and service units walked out of the hospital on Nov. 3. The month-long strike resulted in a temporary restraining order put in place by a Cabell County judge at the request of the hospital.

The two parties were brought back by a federal mediator this week to resume contract talks.

McKinney said they were seeking better wages, continued health insurance coverage, safe staffing and other items. The current three-year contract, she said, is one their members can live with after changes were made to the hospital’s previous offer.

“We made improvements in all areas including health care,” McKinney said. “Even up until the last minute, we were able to reduce the premiums that workers walked out for by more than 40 percent, so it’s a victory for workers.”

Striking employees plan to return to work over the next few days.

“We’re working on a plan with the hospital as we speak of what return to work looks like,” McKinney said. “For some departments, it’s easy because they have set schedules and they know when to go in, so they’ll work with their managers to do so pretty quickly.”

The new contract took effect Dec. 1, 2021 and will run through Nov. 15, 2024.

Tim Martin, chief operating officer for Cabell Huntington Hospital, said in a statement Wednesday night, “We value all of our employees as each plays an important role in delivering reliable, quality care to our patients. We are committed to being the best employer in the region with outstanding wages and benefits and this contract confirms that. We look forward to welcoming back our coworkers and resuming normal operations.”

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