“The election was scheduled more than a month ago, and management has certainly prepared for it,” said Southeastern VNA home health aide Donna Miller. “They’ve been talking to us about it one-on-one and in group meetings — and they’ve put out a new piece of anti-union literature every week. Now it’s time for them to respect some basic workplace democracy and let us vote our choice,” she said.
Miller’s comments refer to tactics waged against her and her co-workers since mid-September by management of the VNASC, a subsidiary of Lawrence and Memorial Corporation (LMC). The anti-union activity followed the aides presenting a petition requesting their employer voluntarily recognize their free choice to form a union with AFT Connecticut. VNASC management refused to consent, and the home health aides filed for a free and fair election with the NLRB that was scheduled to be held on October 25.
The NLRB on October 1 issued a statement that the election would be postponed if the federal government was not re-opened by October 15. Although House Republicans prevented resolution of the shutdown until October 16, the NLRB has determined it can hold the election as scheduled without any disruption.
“I love taking care of my patients and they are my absolute number one priority,” said Cindy Hollis, a Southeastern VNA home health aide with seven years experience serving vulnerable clients. “I don’t understand why anyone would stand in the way of us exercising a basic right like the right to vote,” she said.
Hollis’ comments refer to attempts by VNASC management to delay the scheduled election until November 8, putting off the vote to nearly nine weeks after the aides sought union recognition. The NLRB’s Washington, DC headquarters last week issued a decision allowing the election to be held as originally scheduled so long as both the workers and their employer consented.
“The board is prepared to hold an election and the workers are ready to demonstrate their majority,” said Melodie Peters, a licensed practical nurse, former state senator from the region, and president of AFT Connecticut. “The only thing standing in the way is a CEO reluctant to respect their employees’ right to choose to have a collective voice,” she said.
AFT Connecticut includes the unions representing the VNASC’s nurses as well as the caregivers and healthcare workers at LMC’s Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. According to the nurses at the Southeastern VNA, labor-management relations have been historically positive, and the association reported a $15 million operating margin for fiscal year 2012.
AFT Connecticut, the largest union of acute care hospital workers in the state, represents approximately 100 nurses based at the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeastern Connecticut in Waterford. Follow the labor federation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
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