Negotiators for the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurses Associations spent Thursday preparing for another round of contract talks with Appalachian Regional Healthcare Friday morning in Lexington. Officials say Wednesday's progress is no guarantee the strike is coming to an end, but they say it looks like it's starting to move in that direction.
The mood outside Wednesday's closed door contract talks at the Four Points Sheraton was a welcome change from the frustration of the last seven weeks.
"We really had a good day," said KNA, WVNA Chief Negotiator Pat Tanner.
"It's a nice season to be optimistic and I hope there's reason to be optimistic and from what we have heard in that session, it seems as though it might be," said Attorney James Smith, who represents ARH.
Union officials agreed to allow mandatory overtime, in exchange for ARH's promise to exhaust other staffing options before resorting to it.
"We discussed a number of other items, but from a formal proposal standpoint, that was the only one we had formally addressed," Smith said.
Issues like staffing numbers, seniority and successorship are still on the table.
"We remain committed to getting back to work as long as we have a fair and respectable contract that really still focuses on safe, quality patient care," Tanner said.
Union leaders say if progress continues Friday, they're willing to meet with ARH officials again over the weekend.
Union Chief Negotiator Pat Tanner also asked West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin and Kentucky Governor-Elect Steve Beshear to form fact finding committees to propose fair terms to end the strike. ARH President Jerry Haynes says he's quote 'unclear' about the 'fact-finding' request because he says ARH already shared all its information with representatives the two sent to the meeting.