Talks Between Union, Hospital System Ongoing During Worker Strike

HARLAN, Ky. (AP) - Hundreds of Appalachian Regional Healthcare workers in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia continued to strike today as negotiators tried to work out a contract to settle an ongoing labor dispute.

Talks between the hospital system and the United Steelworkers union resumed after talks stalled last night.

Union official Roger McGinnis says yesterday "wasn't very positive at all.

A spokeswoman for Appalachian Regional Healthcare could not be reached for comment, but a statement on the company's Web site said negotiations are continuing and the company is "hopeful that a resolution can be reached to resolve the issues and to end the strike."

Of the hospital system's approximate 650 employees in Harlan, 440 walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. Sunday when the union's contract expired and negotiations proved unsuccessful. Two arrests were made that first day, and a hospital supervisor was charged with wanton endangerment for allegedly striking a protester with her automobile while crossing the picket line on the second day.

The Letcher County Fiscal Court held a special meeting today to pass a resolution to support the union. At this hour, union officials say they are not expecting negotiations to continue Friday on Good Friday. They say they do expect to be back next week.

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