ARH SUN/NNU Unions Negotiations Update


On Friday, April 18, ARH filed a Federal Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Southern United Nurses/National Nurses United (SUN/NNU) unions which represent ARH’s 734 registered nurses in southeastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.

The federal labor charge was filed in response to the SUN/NNU’s refusal to bargain. ARH recognizes the SUN/NNU’s negotiations tactics as Surface Bargaining (presenting contract proposals it knew were unrealistic for ARH to accept), as well as making numerous economic demands that would make ARH less market competitive and would be out of market norms to implement. These demands illustrate the SUN/NNU’s lack of willingness to bargain in good faith.

Evidence of the SUN/NNU’s unwillingness to bargain include making demands that would decrease ARH’s ability to attract specialty nurses, such as requesting a wage decrease for some specialty nurses, including CVOR nurses (Article 16, Sections A.6 and E). This action would bring ARH’s pay for these highly trained positions below the market value, and would negatively impact ARH’s ability to recruit these hard-to-find professionals to our rural communities.

Additionally, the SUN/NNU has submitted proposals that will negatively impact employee morale. The SUN/NNU’s proposal allows nurses the latitude to fail to report to work twice without giving proper notice before being disciplined. This will negatively impact the nurses who will be required to remain at work until a suitable replacement has been found.

The SUN/NNU’s demands are purely economic, including the request for:

• Triple-time pay for holidays. The standard is 1.5 times the employee’s pay rate.
• The accrual of unlimited vacation and sick time. Currently, RNs accrue up to 160 hours.
• A 5 percent pay raise each year of the three-year contract. ARH has proposed to maintain the current rate of pay for nurses whose pay is above the market norm, but would have supplemented them with over $2,000 in bonuses. However, ARH has agreed to conduct a salary-comparison study in October 2014 and will increase wages as necessary.

Late Friday afternoon, ARH received, via fax, an “intent to strike” notice from the unions for the Beckley ARH Hospital and Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center locations. 

Negotiations began in February, and since that time a number of proposals have been put forth by both ARH and the SUN/NNU. The outcome of these contract negotiations impacts not only our registered nurses, but our nearly 4,000 other employees as well as the communities that depend on our hospitals for care. We are offering the public a chance to review and understand the current proposals that have been submitted by both ARH and the SUN/NNU by posting them on the ARH Newsroom. We are also providing this update to assist you as you read through the proposals.

While the 10-day strike notice has been issued, ARH still met with the SUN/NNU on Monday, April 21 as agreed upon Thursday evening after the majority of ARH’s Registered Nurses represented by the SUN/NNU rejected what ARH considers its “Last, Best and Final” offer. The offer from the SUN/NNU had little change from the offer presented to ARH on April 14 and can be found at the link below.

In our final contract proposal to the SUN/NNU, we are proposing fair, competitive and sustainable wages and benefits that will continue to make our Registered Nurses some of the best compensated workers in our region and will make ARH’s wages and benefits market competitive.

A summary document is also posted on the ARH intranet and sites, which will summarize ARH’s final proposal as well as the last two proposals from the SUN/NNU.

Click the links below to read the documents:

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