“The corporation just doesn’t get it,” said Stephanie Johnson, a sleep lab technician with 12 years of experience at L&M Hospital. “We have been committed to assure community access to quality patient care, and their proposals came up far short of assuring that. They have already said they plan to move infectious disease services, the diabetes center, and occupational health services off-site next year alone. We could not agree to any proposal that put so much that the community relies on at risk,” said Johnson, president of AFT Local 5051, which represents approximately 250 LPNs and technicians at the hospital.
Johnson’s comments refer to the latest counter-proposals the corporation’s representatives made in negotiations on the issue of transferring health services off-site and away from the hospital setting. Their suggestion followed rejection of a significant compromise offered by the caregivers’ unions that both sides instead abide by the decision of an administrative law judge on the matter. A trial on a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint against the corporation is scheduled for December 12, and the unions proposed a moratorium on service transfers until the judge’s ruling.
“The biggest issue has always been our patients’ access to vital health services,” said Lisa D’Abrosca, a registered nurse with 10 years of bedside care experience at L&M Hospital. “That is clearly not the priority of the corporation that runs our community hospital. We intend to make the public aware of their priorities as we reach out for the community’s continued support. After all, we’re fighting for them,” said D’Abrosca, president of AFT Local 5049, the union representing approximately 540 RNs at the hospital.
D’Abrosca’s comments refer to the “I Am L+M” public awareness effort launched in October to unite the hospital’s caregivers and the community they serve in holding LMC accountable. An additional ad was placed in today’s edition of The Day and a new public service announcement began airing on area cable television networks, both appealing for community support. Current and previous print and cable ads are available at the campaign’s website, www.IAmLandM.org
, along with a petition and an interactive letter-writing tool for supporters.
“People who don’t know our patients will be treating them in an urgent care situation,” said Barbara Sadowski, a registered nurse with 26 years of service at L&M Hospital. “The patients we serve need us at their bedside, but we need to be sure they’re not being short-changed on the quality care they deserve going forward,” said Sadowski, a member of AFT Local 5149.
Sadowski’s comments refer to concerns she and her colleagues identified as their number one priority in negotiations over successor agreements for both unions’ contracts, which expired November 16. In two polls of the unions’ combined membership, the impact of shifting health services away from the hospital’s main campus was the issue identified as the most critical to address.
“Experience is key, and training matters when you’re talking about patient health,” said Mitchell Ross, a CAT Scan technologist with eight years of experience at L&M Hospital. “We don’t want to, but we’re willing to strike for our community if that’s what it takes to get L&M back on track,” said Ross, a member of AFT Local 5051.
Ross’ comments refer to votes earlier this month by members of both unions to strike in the event that efforts to resolve unfair labor practices impacting patient care could not be achieved. Strike plans now move forward, and union leaders intend for the nurses, technicians, and caregivers to return to work on Saturday despite threats by the corporation to lockout all employees.
# # #
AFT Connecticut, the largest union of acute care hospital workers in the state, represents approximately 1,600 registered nurses, LPNs, technicians, and healthcare workers at L&M Hospital in New London. Follow the labor federation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.