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Danbury Hospital Leadership Indicted on Charges of "Restraining, Coercing" Caregivers
"At first I was encouraged that management was having meetings for healthcare workers," said Anna Princiotti, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Danbury Hospital "I thought we would get to explain our concerns about patient care. But they were just management's negative campaign of lies and fear. I'm not surprised the government has said they were illegal," said Princiotti, a 28-year veteran employee and member of the organizing committee for Danbury and New Milford Healthcare Workers United.
Princiotti's comments refer to management's reaction earlier this year to the announcement by both facilities' healthcare workers that they were joining together for a voice on the job. The diverse group of employees deliver the greatest share of direct patient care at the WCHN-owned and operated Danbury and New Milford Hospitals. An organizing committee representing the caregivers in May announced a majority had chosen to unite in AFT Connecticut, the labor federation that includes both facilities' registered nurses (RNs) and technical professionals.
"I have been at the bargaining table with WCHN management for months working to reach a fair agreement that puts patients first," said Matthew Hollins, an X-Ray/CAT Scan technologist at Danbury Hospital for the past 10 years. "The community is starting to see how the corporate attitude doesn't respect workers, doesn't respect the law, doesn't respect community leaders and doesn't respect patient care. We're glad the glad the community is coming together to stand with us," said Hollins, who also serves on the negotiating committee for the Danbury and New Milford Federation of Healthcare Technical Employees.
Hollins' comments refer to efforts by radiology technologists, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and respiratory clinicians at both facilities to codify their voice in decisions impacting patient care. Deliberations with WCHN administrators and their attorneys over a first union contract for the approximately 260 technical professionals have not yet produced a mutual resolution. A comprehensive community engagement effort in September was launched to raise public awareness and build broad support for an agreement that respects the caregivers as healthcare professionals.
"I am happy to see that the NLRB is holding network leadership responsible for the actions of the consultants and managers who denied healthcare workers their right to form a union," said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. "We are proud to stand with these workers and fight for their right to respect, dignity and fair wages. We're particularly proud of the outpouring of community support they have generated over the past two months," added Hochadel.
Hochadel's comments refer to the overwhelmingly positive response to the caregivers' outreach efforts from area civic and elected leaders, patient and labor advocates, and faith and labor organizations. Nearly 100 residents in mid-October turned out at New Hope Baptist Church to hear from impacted workers at a community forum organized by the Danbury Rising! coalition. The coalition on Friday announced that U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) will today join area legislators in speaking at a patient care vigil at Broadview Middle School in Danbury at 5:00PM.
AFT Connecticut, the largest union of acute care health professionals in the state, represents approximately 725 RNs and 260 technicians, clinicians and LPNs at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals. For more information, visit www.aftct.org or follow the labor federation on Twitter at @AFTCT and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
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