By NATALIE SCHREYER
Union workers at West Virginia University Hospitals gave notice Thursday of a possible 10-day strike if the union cannot reach an agreement with WVUH.
The existing agreement will expire Dec. 31, and if a tentative pact is not in place by noon on Jan. 1, union members would begin the strike.
The union voted down the most recent contract offer from the agency earlier this week. Chris Cordwell, business manager for Laborers’ Local Union 814, which has approximately 900 members working at WVUH, including clinical associates, materials handlers and workers in housekeeping, transport, sterile processing and other areas, said issues at stake include possible increases in health insurance premiums and deductibles for workers. There also are concerns over wages, he said.
“We’re trying to keep benefits where we can afford ’em,” Cordwell said. “I don’t think the union’s asking for too much.”
The next meeting between the union and the hospital is scheduled for Dec. 26, according to Cordwell.
In a statement, WVUH spokeswoman Amy Johns said the agency is “disappointed that the members of Local 814 did not approve the contract offered.”
“We believe this was a very fair proposal that would continue to place our workers at the highest levels of compensation and benefits compared to other hospitals in the state,” Johns said. “WVUH officials have been negotiating with union representatives in good faith since October. We are hopeful that in the coming days our union employees will approve an agreement. Regardless of this development, WVU Hospitals is prepared to ensure that our patients’ care and safety remain our top priorities.”
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