Mediator Requests Meeting With Striking Nurses, Hospital System

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A federal mediator has requested a meeting with representatives of some 600 Appalachian nurses on strike and officials with the region's largest health care providers.

More than 630 registered nurses at seven Kentucky and two West Virginia Appalachian Regional Healthcare hospitals walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Monday when their contract expired.

The federal mediator, Herb Fetty, has requested to meet with both sides Monday in Lexington.

Fetty, who monitored negotiations between the two sides before the strike, initiated talks between the two sides Thursday, said Pat Tanner, a negotiator for the nurses association.

ARH officials cautioned that the discussions were simply talks, not necessarily "a resumption of negotiations." Officials have said they have no interest in resuming negotiations with the nurses.

"This does not indicate a resumption of negotiations but is customarily done out of respect for the mediator," said ARH spokeswoman Candace Elkins.

Tanner, however, hopes that the meeting with Fetty will lead to discussions between the nurses and ARH.

Weeks of negotiations between the union and hospital administrators came to an impasse over several issues including staffing ratios, mandatory overtime and pay raises.

Last week, ARH issued its "final offer" to the nurses, which included an initial 2 percent pay raise and flexible schedules, allowing nurses to work 10 and 12-hour shifts.

However, Tanner said the proposed contract reduces holiday pay and increases insurance premiums, canceling out any pay raise. She said the union was open to further talks.

The nurses want better retirement and medical benefits; reinstatement of the modified work week (working 36 hours for 40 hours of pay); and additional staffing to offset mandatory overtime.

"You can't give good patient care if you don't have enough staff," Tanner said.

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by George Location: Lexington on Oct 5, 2007 at 06:45 PM
    Nurses don't be fooled,they cannot afford to keep the hospital under a strike. They will go broke. Their investors will give in. Borrow money to pay your bills. Keep the scabs out of the hospital. Prevail!!
  • by citizen also Location: neon on Oct 5, 2007 at 05:55 PM
    I agree with citizen 1 RN's are supost to be professional, but the ones I see on the picket lines aren't with all the name calling going on. Hello, Patients aren't own an assembly line that need to be put together.
  • by KNA Supporter Location: Hindman, KY on Oct 5, 2007 at 03:08 PM
    Nurses who don't show up for work and are not on strike are simply respecting their fellow nursing co-workers. I admire that and support them all. We need these people back inside that hospital badly. The people you see out by the road at ARH make that hospital the caring environment it is. Good luck to the nurses as they go back to hopefully a progressive negotiation meeting next week.
  • by citizen Location: harlan on Oct 5, 2007 at 02:23 PM
    lots of them have already lost their jobs. they have been replaced with local nurses hired into permanent positions. they do not have a job to go back to. several nurses are beginning to return to work with the fear of losing their jobs. they do not have the community support that they thought they would have. most think they are being unreasonable, spoiled and greedy. there are not many jobs in harlan county that pay what these nurses have been paid.
  • by RN Location: Hazard Ky on Oct 5, 2007 at 02:09 PM
    Would you want to count on a nurse that has 7-8 other patients besides you AND has worked 16 hours and is still is on duty? The strike is about patient care safety NOT money.
  • by Citizen Location: Hazard, Ky on Oct 5, 2007 at 12:18 PM
    all the nurses that do not show up for work should be fired


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