Despite plans for 868 union employees to strike at West Virginia University Hospitals beginning Dec. 31, hospital president Bruce McClymonds maintains that the quality of care provided will not slip, reports the Associated Press.
At a meeting on Tuesday, officials with Local 814 of the AFL-CIO--which represents housekeepers and food service workers, as well as phlebotomists and technicians responsible for sterilizing medical tools--notified WVU Hospitals of the strike plan after neither side could reach an agreement on new contract terms. Union employees were looking for a pay raise, according to president Danny King, but weren't happy with a deal that would have raised their health insurance premiums.
"We just want a fair deal," Lisa Metz, a pre-operative care associate and a union employee, said, according to an AP article published in the Charleston Daily Mail. "By the time we get our wages and they take out our insurance, we're in a hole....The insurance is going up and at the rate they're going, we're going to owe them money."
McClymonds, though, insisted that the hospital's deal was reasonable.
"We believe that our offer is fair and generous, especially when considering the state of the economy and expected financial challenges of healthcare reform," he told the AP. "We are hopeful that the union will reconsider its decision to strike and remain willing to negotiate the details of how available funds can be distributed."
Local 814 business manager Sherri Dezzutti, however, said the hospital offer wasn't enough.
"At this point, it's not acceptable," she said.