While Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and the union representing over 800 hospital workers failed to reach agreement on a new contract by the end of the day Wednesday, the already-once-extended deadline, they did agree to an additional day of negotiations on Monday November 20th.
The existing contract between the hospital and Service Employees International Union, Local 205, was originally set to expire last month but both sides agreed to extend it through November 15th while the two sides tried to come together on a new labor deal.
The hospital made an offer last week that was overwhelmingly rejected by union members during 12 hours of voting on Monday November 13th. The union says the hospital’s proposal would cut wages for new workers, which in turn, could risk staffing levels and quality of care.
In the meantime, the existing contract has been extended through November 28th.
Union leaders say that the ultimate decision on whether or not employees should strike will be up to its negotiating committee, but add that any strike could not occur until after a 10-day notice is given to the hospital so that it could make arrangements.
The only strike in the history of MMC came in 1966 when the local union chapter was formed.