West Virginia hospital workers reach agreement to end strike

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Cabell Huntington (W.Va.) Hospital and the Service Employees International Union District 1199 have reached a new contract, effectively ending a monthlong strike, according to union and hospital statements.

The contract, approved by union members Dec. 1, covers more than 900 service workers at the hospital, including patient care assistants, technicians, clerks, aids, housekeepers, food service, licensed practical nurses and maintenance staff. 

With the new contract, striking employees could likely begin returning to work as soon as Dec. 3.

"We value all of our employees as each plays an important role in delivering reliable, quality care to our patients," Tim Martin, COO of Cabell Huntington, said in a news release. "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 co-workers and resuming normal operations."

The new contract includes an annual 2 percent across-the-board pay increase, as well as a 2 percent addition to the wage scale, plus increases in shift differential pay, according to the union.  

SEIU District 1199 said the contract also provides that employees begin paying biweekly healthcare premiums beginning in 2023, although each worker will be able to get their premium reduced by going through an annual health assessment process and earning between $500 and $1,000 off their premiums.

Other contract provisions cited by the union include reduced deductibles and a $250 stipend retirees 65 and older can use to purchase a supplemental insurance plan.

"Our members stood proudly in solidarity on the strike line and beat back concession after concession. These healthcare heroes deserve way more than what this hospital finally offered, but we are celebrating the victories that were won," Sherri McKinney, regional director for the union, said in a news release.

SEIU District 1199 began their strike Nov. 3. The new contract is effective from Dec. 1, 2021, through Nov. 15, 2024. 

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