PAINTSVILLE — Highlands Regional Medical Center and Service Employees International Union 1199 are continuing to hold last-minute negotiations in an attempt to reach an agreement on a new contract for 207 hospital employees.
The two sides have been negotiating for the past month and are in the second and final day of talks this week. If no agreement is reached before the end of the day, the union could issue a 10-day strike notice.
Wednesday afteroon, SEIU director Joyce Gibson said the hospital’s latest offer closed some distance between the two sides, but they remained far apart on the subject of health insurance for employee spouses.
Gibson said the Highlands’ latest proposal eliminated a demand to drop spouses from coverage the hospital provides to employees, but would require employees to pay a surcharge to have their spouses covered. She did not indicate how much that surcharge was.
Hospital spokesperson Maxanna Cook said she could not speak to specifics of the negotiations, but said the hospital remains hopeful that some agreement can be worked out.
“The patients are our number-one priority, and we want to work together with our employees as a team to given them the best coverage possible,” Cook said.
Those participating in the talks said they expected negotiations to continue well into the night.