KDMC union holds vigil to protest plans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Flames flickered in the cool December air but the unhappy union does not plan to waver.

Approximately 50 King's Daughters Medical Center employees took part

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in a candlelight vigil outside the hospital Wednesday evening to show their solidarity in the face of stalled contract talks between the Service Employees International Union District 1199 and hospital management.

The contract between the union and the hospital expired Nov. 30.

The union represents 571 hospital employees from across the Tri-State including employees in housekeeping, maintenance, laundry, secretaries, lab employees, transcriptionists, dietary areas and food service.

Kathy McCormick, West Virginia/Kentucky team coordinator for the union, said hospital management has proposed subcontracting more jobs, misusing temporary workers and wants to increase the amount of money employees pay for reduced health insurance.

"KDMC is a non-profit organization that pays no taxes, yet they attack the community by demanding the right to subcontract jobs, demanding employees pay more for less health insurance and misuse the temporary employees, which is an injustice to those employees," McCormick said.

Hospital officials contend that even though talks are stalled, issues dividing the two sides can and will be worked out.

"Negotiations are continuing and we are confident the two sides can come to an agreement very soon," King's Daughters Medical Center spokesman Michael Reeves said.

The biggest issue for the union members remains the subcontracting of jobs. The hospital is allowed to do so now in certain circumstances but want to drastically expand that ability, McCormick said.

The changes to health insurance also concern the employees.

"We already pay for health insurance," McCormick said. "We are willing to pay more but we are not willing to pay more for less."

Union employees plan to gather in Ashland's Central Park Saturday and pass out leaflets stating their complaints to people in the community.