11/7/07

With strike failing, nurses look to decertify union

A big development in the nurse’s strike against Appalachian Regional Healthcare as nurses at one ARH hospital are asking to dissolve their local chapter of the Kentucky Nurses Association. The KNA chapter in question is in Hazard. 76 union nurses filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to dissolve the local chapter.

NLRB officials say their goal is to process the petition and hold an election on whether to dissolve the union within 42 days after it's filed but they say it's probably going to take longer than that because right now, officials are investigating allegations against both the union and ARH involving unfair labor practices and refusal to bargain.

"The nurses out here on our line wouldn't do that. Any of the nurses on any of the lines wouldn't do that. It's only the ones on the inside I'm sure and I don't know why," said striking nurse Kim Hurt.

"It's going to take some time so the immediate effect on the strike is probably uncertain at this point," said Rick King, General Counsel for ARH.

Nurses on the Hazard picket line say they don't think their KNA chapter is in jeopardy. Also, the AFL-CIO had added $20,000 to its efforts to aid the nurses on strike at Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) hospitals in Kentucky and West Virginia, Pres. John Sweeney announced at a rally here today, in addition to contributions of cash and food last week. Sweeney pledged that the 10 million members of the AFL-CIO would stand side by side with the nurses as they continue their struggle to provide better patient care.

"ARH forced 700 registered nurses out on strike in retaliation for their demands for safer staffing levels and higher patient care standards," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. "These nurses are our heroes because they've been walking picket lines for their patients, for our communities and all working families."

The fund will provide emergency financial support for the striking nurses, with assistance given to those needing help with basic necessities like heating bills and food. According to Sweeney, the fund will allow the nurses to continue their struggle without fear of losing their homes or declaring bankruptcy.

On Friday, Nov. 2, union members, led by Kentucky AFL-CIO Pres. Bill Londrigan, distributed $10,000 worth of food to the nurses at the Hazard hospital. AFSCME Pres. Gerald McEntee also delivered a $10,000 check to the nurses last week.

The nurses, members of the Kentucky Nurses Association and West Virginia Nurses Association and affiliated with the United American Nurses, have been on strike for five weeks. The nurses are calling on ARH to reduce unsafe staffing ratios to allow the nurses to provide the best possible patient care.

(wkyt.com)

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