“This contract is how we’re going to be able to make our voices heard,” said Beth Thomsen, a respiratory therapist serving patients at Danbury Hospital since 2001. “It’s why we formed our union in the first place; and it’s the product of sitting down with management and working together to make our hospitals better places to receive vital acute care services,” said Thomsen, who has served as co-president of the negotiating committee for the Danbury and New Milford Federation of Healthcare Technical Employees.
Thomsen’s comments refer to the techs and therapists’ 2014 drive to join their registered nurse (RN) colleagues at both facilities in AFT Connecticut. Their new contract begins to close gaps in economic inequality and workplace rights that were key factors for the technical professionals exercising their free choice to form their own union.
“I and all my colleagues want to thank our community for their ongoing support,” said Matthew Hollins, an X-Ray/CAT Scan technologist with 10 years experience at Danbury Hospital. “Our patients, their families and countless others have come forward to stand with us. Tha’’s because they understand that a fair contract offers us the security to engage and explain ourselves in decisions that affect their care,” added Hollins, who also served on the negotiating committee.
Hollins’ comments refer to strong support over the past two years from the region’s healthcare advocates, faith and civic leaders and elected officials for the hospitals’ technical professionals. The caregivers’ high profile efforts to negotiate a fair first contract last fall ultimately gained the attention of both the state’s U.S. Senators and the district’s Representative in Congress.
“I am so proud of these hard-working caregivers for standing by their values and principles,” said AFT Connecticut Jan Hochadel. “They supported each other and their colleagues on the negotiating committee throughout this long process. They have demonstrated that collective bargaining is how to work together to make improvements in patient care and workplace conditions,” added Hochadel.
Hochadel’s comments refer to the gains the technical professionals won through negotiations, including general wage increases of two percent for each year of their collective bargaining agreement. The contract also includes a mechanism for monthly labor-management meetings that include staffing as a standing issue as well as seniority rights and due process protections.
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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