ARH Negotiations Continue

Officials with the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurses Associations and Appalachian Regional Healthcare did not leave Wednesday's meeting with a new contract, but did come out with more heated words.

Contract talks broke down Wednesday evening with each side accusing the other of trying to mislead the public about what's going on behind closed doors. Several issues remain unresolved.

"We were ready to sign off on those issues with the union, but the union refused to do that today," said ARH Spokesperson Candace Elkins.

Instead ARH officials issued a statement saying they don't believe union officials intend to resolve the strike. Union leaders say the opposite is true.

"They're running out of ammunition and we're prepared for anything that they might say about us," said Union Chief Negotiator Pat Tanner

ARH officials also questioned Tanner's absence from the meeting. Tanner says she had a prior commitment, and KNA's labor director was fully capable of handling negotiations.

"The decision and plans had not been made early enough in the week for me to comfortably change this plan," Tanner said.

As ARH officials say they're not surprised by the unions' quote 'deception,' and union leaders call ARH's attorney the hospital CEO's personal 'yes-man,' some say the mudslinging isn't helping.

"I think right now we need to work very hard to get a contract so the nurses can go back to work," Elkins said.

"Given a little bit of focus and concentration we can come to a resolution and come up with an agreement we can both live with," Tanner said.

The next round of talks begins Friday morning.

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