West Virginia, Kentucky Governors Offer Proposal in Nurses' Strike
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and Kentucky Gov.-elect Steve Beshear offered a proposal Dec.7 to about 650 striking Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses and hospital officials, trying to help them reach a new contract agreement. The old one expired and the strike began Oct. 1. Under the proposal negotiating groups would be limited to five people per side; ARH would bring nurses back to work for a 90-day period under the terms of the previous contract, and the parties would continue to negotiate; and certain outside supporters for both parties would be required to "stand down." For ARH, that would include consultant Yessin & Associates, and for the nurses, non-affiliated unions.
"We were asked by both parties to join the discussions as a neutral party, and our proposal is designed to bring them back to the table," Manchin said. "Our hope is that this timeframe will provide an opportunity for both sides to look at additional options that will jointly benefit them, and in the meantime get nurses back to work providing care for ARH's patients."
"I am very concerned about the effect this impasse may have on the health care of our people in Eastern Kentucky," said Gov.-elect Beshear. "It is time for both sides in this dispute to come together for the good of the patients they serve." The hospital system has nine facilities in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.