Second Strike This Year Could Be Days Away At ARH Hospitals

A second strike this year at ARH hospitals could just be days away.

Officials with the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurse's Association say ARH's negotiator told them to expect their best and final offer Wednesday.

Union officials say the morale of the nurses is low and ARH's approach to negotiations has been unreasonable.

Both sides say they still hope to avoid a strike.

The current contract ends this Sunday at midnight.

ARH officials say they are making plans to continue providing quality care if there's a walk-out.

Below are both sides full statements.

KNA/WVNA Press Release:

The Kentucky Nurses Association and the West Virginia Nurses Association were notified by Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. of their intent to reopen the contract in June. The proposals were placed on ARH’s Intranet before negotiations began. Negotiations began on August 27th and after each session propaganda was generated by ARH resulting in “bulletin board bargaining.”

The KNA/WVNA didn’t open the contract and never wanted to open the contract until after ARH exhausted all their appeals related to their unilateral discontinuance of the Modified Work Week provision (36 hours of work for 40 hours of pay). However, ARH opened and has offered proposals that will cost the RN’s more money than the 2% salary increase proposed.

ARH has gone public and stated that it will be business as usual – think about it! If the company is less 700+ RN’s – what kind of patient care can you expect?

Our priorities are based on the surveys our members returned: (1) Staffing, (2) Mandatory Overtime, (3) Retirement/Medical benefits, (4) 36/40 Issues. We will also preserve the union’s successor language and the seniority rights of our members.

ARH’s negotiator announced on Monday, Sept. 24th at 3:45pm that they would present their best and final offer on Wednesday, the 26th of September. This unusual move is consistent with the entire, unorthodox, unreasonable approach to negotiations. Usually the Association would ask for the company’s best and final proposal. The continued effort to control these negotiation with the help of Yessin, a recognized union busting organization from Tampa, FL, who has had mandatory meeting, handbills, harassment of nurses and disruption of patient care has added to the delay, discontent and low morale of the nurses.

KNA/WVNA does not want to strike and will only do so if we are unable to get a contract that guarantees a safe working environment for the nurses and the patients we care for. It is our hope that ARH will agree to a contract that insures safe, quality patient care provided by adequate staffing that respects and recognizes the loyalty of the Registered Nurses, protects our families, neighbors and the whole community. ARH wants to do what they want, when they want, to whom they want despite the contract, the rights of RN’s and the needs of patients.


Update: Labor Negotiations Continue

September 24, 2007 --- Labor contract negotiations are continuing between Appalachian Regional Healthcare and the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurses Association Union. ARH confirmed it has received a notice of intent to strike from union representatives. Contract negotiations began in late August and the existing contract expires September 30.

ARH is a leading employer in the region and officials say the wages and benefits package offered to the KNA/WVNA reflects the healthcare system's competitiveness with the market for healthcare salary and benefits.

"We are offering our nurses salary increases, free health care at our facilities, generous paid time off, retirement plan contributions and much more. These are some of the best healthcare jobs in this region as well as Kentucky and West Virginia," said Jerry W. Haynes, ARH President & CEO.

Haynes said in the event of a strike, current ARH registered nurses would be allowed to work and ARH is well prepared to continue providing quality care at all of its facilities. Haynes added, "We are hopeful that an agreement can be reached so we can continue working closely with our nurses to provide the excellent care our communities depend on."

Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) is a not-for-profit health system serving 350,000 residents across Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia. Operating nine hospitals, multi-specialty physician practices, home health agencies, HomeCare Stores and retail pharmacies, ARH is the largest provider of care and single largest employer in southeastern Kentucky and the third largest private employer in southern West Virginia.

The ARH system employs 4,400 employees and has a network of more than 400 active and courtesy medical staff members representing various specialties.

Firmly committed to its mission of improving the health and promoting the well-being of all people in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, ARH provided more than $96 million in charity and uncompensated care in the past year alone.

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