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HomeHealthcare"Making Real Progress Today" while Preparing for the Next Round

“Making Real Progress Today” while Preparing for the Next Round

Moving employers from fixating on operating margins to investing in their workforce requires union members to muster a significant show of strength. Engaging, developing and empowering activists is critical to building and sustaining the pressure often needed to secure contractual gains. Our latest collective bargaining wins report highlights a local healthcare union’s recent victory that followed six months of members’ escalation efforts aimed at demonstrating that they were “worth more.”

Before negotiations commenced last December, our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Danbury Nurses Union, Unit 47’s executive board began engaging activists by identifying priority worksite issues to address at the table. They knew from previous experience that winning a strong successor contract with Nuvance Health, the sprawling network that owns their community hospital, would require significant meaningful membership involvement.

“We requested feedback – as well as solutions – to allow nurses to take ownership and feel that their concerns would be heard,” said local union president Janice Stauffer, RN (second from left, in photo above). “That empowered and encouraged several new activists to step up and join our negotiating committee.”

Shortly after talks with Nuvance began, local leaders and AFT Connecticut’s professional staff had organized a Contract Action Team (CAT) that eventually grew to 50 active nurses. Together, they led worksite visibility actions to educate their co-workers and ultimately mobilize for an informational picket outside the acute care facility aimed at generating additional support.

“We believed we are ‘worth more’ than Nuvance was willing to invest in its caregivers,” said Stauffer, an intensive care unit nurse with 23 years of experience at the facility. “We brought that message to our community, and the show of support we received in response was inspiring.”

Click here for press coverage of the late April demonstration at Danbury Hospital.

Shortly after the informational picket, both sides requested the assistance of outside mediation to resolve outstanding contractual issues. There, network executives presented a set of “last, best offer” (LBO) proposals.

The package represented significant economic gains – the highest annual wage increases in more than 12 years, additional salary grade “steps” for veteran nurses and a boost in preceptor pay. Negotiating committee members and AFT Connecticut Field Representative Jorge Cabrera agreed to bring it to the full membership for an up or down vote.

Despite its many gains, the LBO was ratified by the narrowest of margins in early June.

“This was a wakeup call to Nuvance’s administration, who expected overwhelming support for their LBO,” said Stauffer. “It was the right strategy for making real progress today and building for the strength needed in the next round of negotiations.”

Click here for a collage featuring members casting ballots on the LBO.

As part of their long-term education and engagement efforts, Stauffer and fellow union leaders are planning a “contract book club” to regularly review the collective bargaining agreement.

“The goal is to help members to truly understand the contract language over the next three years,” she said. “At the same time, our leadership team will be working closely with AFT Connecticut to see where we need to concentrate to build on the gems we just won.”

We have publicized 15 additional collective bargaining wins since our previous report in March. At press time, two additional local union contract settlements had just been finalized; they are scheduled for initial announcement next week and inclusion in the next quarterly update in September.

Click here for the graphic congratulating our UConn-AAUP members on ratifying their wage reopener agreement with university administration.

Click here for a photo of Federation of Technical College Teachers leaders celebrating their members’ reopener agreement vote.

Click here for the announcement that our UConn Professional Employees Association (UCPEA) members signed-off on their reopener.

Click here for the graphic recognizing ratification of our Association of Connecticut Assistant Attorneys General (AAGs)’s wage reopener.

Click here for the announcement of our Administrative & Residual (A&R) Employees Union members adopting their reopener agreement.

Click here for a collage recognizing our UCHC-AAUP’s bargaining team for their membership’s successful reopener agreement ratification.

Click here for the graphic honoring our CSU-AAUP leaders on their reopener receiving initial sign-off.

Click here for the announcement that our State Vocational Federation of Teachers’ reopener agreement had been ratified.

Click here for the kudos to our University Health Professionals (UHP) members on embracing their wage reopener.

Click here for the announcement of an arbitration win on pay raises for our Judicial Professional Employees (JPE) Union.

Click here for a graphic celebrating final approval of our Canton Federation of Education Personnel members’ successor contract.

Click here for a collage of Vernon Federation of Paraprofessionals members voting for their new collective bargaining agreement.

Click here for a graphic congratulating our Farmington Public School Employees United members on their contract’s final approval.

Click here for the announcement that our Region 18 Federation of Non-Certified Education Personnel members’ agreement was adopted.

Click here for a graphic celebrating our Backus Federation of Nurses’ contract extension that codifies workplace safety legislation.

Editor’s note: our Home Care Plus – South Central CT Union members also ratified a successor collective bargaining agreement during this quarter that was not previously announced.

Matt O'Connor
Matt O'Connor
Communications Coordinator for AFT Connecticut, a labor federation of over 30,000 hard-working women and men in the Nutmeg State.

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