Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

1,000 West Virginia Hospital Workers Are Going on Strike Today

Hospital workers in West Virginia are set to join the more than 20,000 U.S. workers currently on strike.

Mike Elk

November 3, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: The Herald-Dispatch

Originally published in Payday Report


Over the past two months, Huntington, West Virginia has quickly emerged as a hotbed of strike activity. 

Last month, the city, with a population of only 50,000, had 50 Machinists union members from Sulzer Pump and 450 Steelworkers union members from Special Metals go on strike. 

Now, more than 1,000 medical workers at Cabell Huntington Hospital, members of SEIU 1199, are set to strike at noon as the company demands cuts to workers’ union contracts despite the hospital expanding. 

To prepare for the strike, the hospital has canceled all elective surgeries next week and has hired a private security firm to monitor picket line activities as the medical staff gets ready to take to the streets. 

Additionally, as one of the largest hospitals in the region, they have brought in contingency staff to help staff the hospital for emergencies, and they’ve advertised temporary jobs to replace striking hospital workers with rates up to $15,000 for two weeks of work. 

In 2018, the hospital expanded to become the Mountain Health Network, acquiring a nearby hospital St. Mary’s Medical for $140 million. The hospital group also recently broke ground on a $50 million expansion to Cabell Huntington Hospital and bought the naming rights to the Huntington Civic Center for $1.7 million in 2019.

“Even after purchasing other medical facilities through the region, the company is still demanding concessions,” said Sherri McKinney, director of SEIU district 1199 WV/KY/OH. “Every single item that they put on the bargaining table had a concession. They are asking  workers to take wages cuts, healthcare cuts and even cuts to their holidays.”
Given past public support in Huntington for the strikes at Sulzer Pump and Special Metals, this strike is likely to garner more public support, which could lead workers to strike for as long as it takes until they get a good deal.

In early October, 50 Machinists union members went on strike at Sulzer Pump. At that plant, the strike caught the company off guard. Within two weeks, the company settled the strike. The union was also able to beat back all the concessions, protect seniority, and win wage increases. 

Union leaders cited the role of community members — who organized food banks and supported events on behalf of the striking workers — as being critical to winning the strike. 

“Thanks to their determination and the support of the community, we have protected some of the best careers in the area,” said Machinist District 54 President T. Dean Wright Jr. in a statement after settling the contract.

Around the same time, 450 workers, members of the Steelworkers went on strike at Special Metals. The Special Metals plant is the largest nickel alloy plant globally and is owned by Berkshire Hathway and its billionaire CEO Warren Buffet. 

However, Special Metals brought in scabs, and the strike has now been stretched into its fifth week. 

As for the 1,000 medical workers who plan to strike at Cabell Huntington Hospital tomorrow, things could escalate beyond Huntington, West Virginia. 

“After the pandemic, you are seeing workers across the country say that they have enough,” says SEIU’s McKinney. “Workers are standing up and striking in Huntington like they are standing up all over the country.” 

Facebook Twitter Share

Guest Posts

New School Adjuncts Strike for Higher Wages Amid Ongoing Labor Struggles Across the US

1,300 adjuncts at the new school in NYC are on strike. This strike comes in the midst of other strikes across the country including at The University of California and Starbucks.

Jean Faber

November 18, 2022

Historic Strike at The University of California Could Reshape the Terrain of Labor Struggles in Higher Education

Forty-eight thousand workers are on strike at the University of California — the largest higher-education strike in U.S. history. These young workers are demanding raises that allow them to afford rent and childcare in some of the most expensive locations in the country. A successful strike of this magnitude could fundamentally change the terrain of labor struggle in higher education, which has systematically exploited its most vulnerable workers.

Carolina Flores

November 18, 2022
A BLM protest in Detroit in 2020

DPD Must Not Be Given License to Kill: Justice for Porter Burks and All Mental Health Victims of Police Brutality and Aggression

Detroit Police have killed yet another Detroiter having a mental health crisis. We republish a statement from the BLM group Detroit Will Breathe.

Detroit Will Breathe

November 14, 2022
Protesters in Ontario on November 4 against Doug Ford's proposed bill to make it illegal for education workers to strike.

Canadian Education Workers Strike against Anti-Strike Law and Inflation — Labor Leaders Relent

55,000 education workers walked off the job in defiance of a bill that made striking illegal. Amid growing calls for a general strike, the labor leaders accepted a truce instead of relying on workers’ power in the streets.

Ben Marenlensky

November 8, 2022


Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. Logo on a grey building.

Workers Built Twitter — They Should Own It, Not Elon Musk

Corporations like Twitter cannot function without the workers who do the daily labor.

Kyle Thibodeau

November 27, 2022

What Will Communism Look Like in New York City?

The new novel Everything for Everyone tells the story of a global insurrection against capitalism starting in 2052. It's not only entertaining — it's a good opportunity to think about revolutionary strategy.

Nathaniel Flakin

November 23, 2022

The Slave Labor World Cup

Qatar’s wealth and power are built on the labor power of migrant construction workers, who toil amid semislave conditions.

Santiago Montag

November 22, 2022
President Biden greets John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, after arriving Thursday at Pittsburgh International Airport

Jacobin Is Wrong: The Midterms Were Not a Socialist Wave

The 2022 midterms were not a “red wave” of socialism — we don’t win by shoehorning capitalist politicians into a leftist mold.

Otto Fors

November 20, 2022