Huntington, West Virginia – Yesterday, nurses and technical workers with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH at Cabell Huntington stood united for a fair contract. Workers state that in negotiations with hospital executives, their concerns are not being addressed. A press event with participants wearing masks and practicing social distancing was held outside on Tuesday, July 7th at 7:30 pm on Hal Greer Boulevard adjacent to Cabell Huntington Hospital.
In negotiations, nurses say that hospital executives have offered no wage increases and have proposed decreased starting wage rates for nurses and technical workers. Additionally, extreme healthcare costs have been imposed on workers at the hospital. Furthermore, nurses say that they continue to work short-staffed and that safe staffing is integral to quality care.
“Workers with Cabell Huntington Hospital were heroes in our community long before this pandemic,” said Joyce Gibson, Regional Director with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH. “They are standing together and speaking out because they know how important it is that they have a voice on the job – safe hospital staffing saves lives,” Gibson continued.
In 2018, Cabell Huntington Hospital acquired St. Mary’s Medical Center in a $165M transaction. In 2020, Cabell Huntington Hospital received $46,209,463 in funding under the Cares Act and St. Mary’s Medical Center was issued $25,221,816. Additionally, amid the COVID19 pandemic, in May 2020, St. Mary’s Medical Center submitted documents to the State of West Virginia Health Care Authority that indicated that they planned to spend over $10M to acquire the Huntington Internal Medicine Group.
At the press conference workers shared firsthand details about what has been happening behind the scenes since they voted to unionize. They were joined by local leaders including Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, Jeanette Rowsey who is running for the West Virginia House of Delegates in District 17, Dakota Nelson who is a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates in District 16, and Hillary Turner who is running for the U.S. Congress in West Virginia’s Third District. “The nurses and technical workers and the people of this region deserve better. We ask hospital executives with Cabell Huntington Hospital to offer a fair and equitable contract and that they hear the voices of these nurses and technical workers as they speak out in regards to quality care,” Gibson concluded.
SEIU District 1199 has represented workers with Cabell Huntington Hospital for over 40 years. In the largest victory since West Virginia became a “right-to-work” state, nurses at Cabell Huntington Hospital joined SEIU District 1199 in November 2019. Technical workers with Cabell Huntington Hospital joined SEIU District 1199 in February 2020.