Union Members With Highlands ARH to Hold Candlelight Vigil Tonight After Overwhelmingly Saying Yes on Strike Empowerment Vote

Union members with Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their bargaining committee to issue a strike notice, if needed. Workers will gather tonight for a candlelight vigil at 7:30pm to express hope that an agreement can be reached with hospital executives and management.

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 30th, 2020. 
Press Contact
: Joyce Gibson, jgibson@seiu1199.org, 877-419-7348.

Prestonsburg, Kentucky – Union workers with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH at Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center continue to stand together for a fair contract. Yesterday, workers voted to empower the member bargaining committee that is negotiating with management to issue a strike notice, if necessary. Tonight, workers will gather in peace to pray and express hope that an agreement can be reached through good faith negotiations.

What: Vigil With SEIU Members at Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center
: Front Lawn of the Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center   
When: 7:30pm on Tuesday, June 30th 

Last week, workers with the hospital applauded a settlement regarding a dispute concerning Medicaid reimbursement rates. As reported, the settlement will provide $383M to rural hospitals across Kentucky. Specifically, Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center is expected to receive $5,028,667 (read press release here). From details that are available, checks could be issued to hospitals as soon as this week.

“As a worker who has been with Highlands ARH for over 20 years, I appreciate what this settlement means for our hospital in Prestonsburg and rural hospitals across Kentucky,” said Krinda Bailey, an emergency room worker and union member leader. “I urge hospital executives with ARH to invest this settlement in the workers at Highlands ARH who do everything they can on behalf of the people of our region.”

“From what has been reported, the total funding for five hospitals in the ARH system that will receive settlement funding is over $16M,” said Joyce Gibson, Regional Director with SEIU District 1199 in Kentucky. “This is a difficult time for so many people and these funds can be used to protect workers with Highlands ARH. These dedicated workers face new risks in their workplace but they have not wavered in their commitment to provide the very best possible healthcare services,” Gibson continued.

“We have to protect good union jobs, in addition to quality care at the hospital. Workers need fair wages so that they can provide for their families, especially during this time of crisis. In terms of the provision of care at the hospital, the workforce there is irreplaceable and nobody wants high turnover. A fair contract is important, not only for these workers and their families but the entire area,” Gibson concluded.

Negotiations with management at the hospital will continue on Thursday, July 2nd. Workers with Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center continue to call on management to recognize their work in the recent pandemic and negotiate in good faith to reach a fair and equitable agreement.

SEIU District 1199 represents over 250 workers with Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center and has represented members at the hospital since the 1980’s. 

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