HUNTINGTON — During voting this week, 60% of the registered nurses at Cabell Huntington Hospital who participated agreed to unionize, according to results from the National Labor Relations Board.
Of the 971 eligible voters, 858 participated, with 518 voting in favor of unionizing and 339 voting against. There was one challenged ballot, but the NLRB said it would not affect the outcome.
Voting overseen by the NLRB took place Tuesday and Wednesday. The approval means the 971 registered nurses at the hospital will join about 870 sanitarians, housekeeping, maintenance, pharmacy techs and patient care assistants represented by the Service Employees International Union 1199.
SEIU representatives called it the biggest union win since West Virginia became a “right-to-work” state.
“My co-workers and I know the best way to advocate for our patients and support our families is through our union,” said Stacey Bias, a critical care float nurse at Cabell Huntington Hospital, in a news release. “We look forward to sitting down with hospital executives to negotiate a union contract that allows us to better care for our families and the families of our community.”
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.
“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.”
Joyce Gibson, regional director with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH, said the next step is to request negotiation dates with the hospital and begin bargaining a contract for all nurses.
Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.