Striking Nurses in W. Va are Met With Intimidation, Harassment and Car Fires!


After hearing that nearly 700 nurses striking at Appalachian Regional Heath Care (ARH), who are represented by the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurses Associations/United American Nurses are being met with underhanded and violent measures brought against them … I thought it was time to raise even greater awareness of this situation.

I hold many discussions with nonunion workers who somewhere along the line will talk about the coercion they believe occurs with union workers organizing. I almost always reply with, "it happens on both sides;" this story is case-in-point.

The nurses began striking on October 1, since then ARH has heightened its intimidation of the striking workers with hired security guards on the picket lines who routinely harass the nurses. The company also has resorted to surveillance cameras taking shots of who walks the picket and when. And now, though it is not clarified yet that its their doing, the company appears to have orchestrated the burning of a car that belonged to one of the union staff who was on hand to assist the nurses.

According to a statement released by the union, a UAN representative left the picket line at the Beckley, WV ARK facility Sunday night. He drove a short distance before realizing he had a flat. He returned to the picket line for assistance, and when he and others returned to his car, they found it had been lit on fire with brush doused in flammable liquid.

Now get this: The workers attempted to report this incident to the police and were told that the department was closed for the Veterans Day holiday and the detectives were not available.

"We are stunned. Violent, threatening actions like this are beyond the pale,"said Ocie Helton, RN, who is the local president of the West Virginia Nurses Association union at Beckley-ARH.

"What if next time someone is in the car that is set on fire?" Helton added.

The next time you talk union business with someone who is somewhat skeptical and throws the violent card in your face, educate them on what is taking place down south with a group of nurse that are standing up for what is right for them and their families.

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