Repairmen and maintenance personnel on strike at a West Virginia hospital

Maintenance and repair workers at a West Virginia hospital went on strike Wednesday after their contracts expired.

Nearly 1,000 members of the International Service Workers Union left their jobs at noon in 1999 at Cabell Huntington Hospital, one of the largest employers in Huntington, West Virginia.

In a statement, union secretary-treasurer Joyce Gibson said hospital staff “have repeatedly made it clear that they value profit over workers and patients.”

Cabell Huntington Chief Operating Officer Tim Martin said the hospital is disappointed that workers have turned down an offer of wages and benefits.

“The Cabell Huntington Hospital has operated in good faith since August, despite all COVID demands, to achieve a fair contract with a generous package of benefits,” Martin said in a statement.

The hospital’s proposal included a 3% increase in the average annual wage, an increase in the gap between shifts, an increased flat benefit, and continuous automatic annual contributions to the retirement accounts of eligible employees.

Service staff were also asked to start paying health insurance premiums. According to the hospital’s latest proposal, it would cover more than 90% of health care costs for employees and their dependents.

Martin said the shift workers are now helping with the hospital’s day-to-day operations.

Gibson said the hospital “pays outside contractors who don’t invest in our community instead of caring for their dedicated permanent staff.”

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