HUNTINGTON — Registered nurses at Cabell Huntington Hospital have voted to unionize after two days of voting.
Voting overseen by the National Labor Relations Board ended Wednesday night with an “overwhelming majority” of nurses voting to join the Service Employees International Union 1199, said Sherri McKinney, spokesperson for SEIU’s nursing campaign. Voting totals were not available by press time.
The vote means the hospital’s 900 registered nurses will join about 870 sanitarians, housekeeping, maintenance, pharmacy techs and patient care assistants represented by SEIU.
Nurses announced their plan to seek union representation in October, hand-delivering a petition asking the hospital to extend union coverage to the nurses — a request that was denied.
Those in favor of unionizing cite short staffing, mandatory overtime and changes, particularly to insurance, since the merging of Cabell Huntington and St. Mary’s Medical Center as to why they need collective bargaining rights.
Hospital administration hired former union employees to educate nurses on the union, saying the union could not guarantee better pay, benefits or staffing.
“We’re disappointed that the majority of nurses who participated in the election chose to be represented by an outside party,” said Lisa Chamberlin Stump, vice president of strategic planning, marketing and business development for CHH.
“However, as the law requires, we’ll begin the lengthy process of bargaining in good faith to reach a collective bargaining agreement that governs registered nurses’ wages, benefits and conditions of employment.”