Caregivers "Taken Away from the Bedside" by "Union-Busters"

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"The community should be outraged by management's tactics," said Nerval White, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) with 15 years of experience at Danbury Hospital. "When their 'union-busters' interfere with our work, we're being taken away from the bedside of our patients. At the same time, our patients' medical information is exposed to these outsiders. It's an invasion of their privacy and a breach of their trust in our community hospital," White said.
 
White's comments refer to the conduct of the consultants hired by the non-profit WCHN to derail the lawful union organizing activity of approximately 800 healthcare workers at both facilities. An organizing committee representing the large and diverse group of caregivers earlier this month publicly announced their free choice to unite in AFT Connecticut for a voice on the job.
 
"Management's behavior shows just how out of touch they are with us as caregivers," said Jessica Ellul, a patient care tech unit coordinator. "Hiring high-priced 'union-busters' to bully your employees is not just disrespectful; it's irresponsible and a waste of patient care dollars," said Ellul, who has 10 years of experience at Danbury Hospital.
 
Ellul's comments refer to the heavy-handed methods employed by WCHN's outside consultants, which have included mandatory "captive audience meetings" where healthcare workers are subjected to harassment, coercion and intimidation. The estimated cost for the firm to the region's largest non-profit health services provider is expected to be in excess of $2 million. 
 
"Network administrators need to drop these tactics and put patient care first," said registered nurse (RN) Joanne Chapin, president of the New Milford Nurses Union, AFT Local 5101. "Hiring costly anti-union consultants to infringe on the rights of these vital caregivers is unconscionable. It's time for WCHN to fire their 'union-busters' and show the community they value patients over profits," said Chapin.
 
Chapin's remarks refer to the network's continued use of the consultants despite Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed last month over their illegal suppression of healthcare workers' rights at Danbury Hospital. AFT Connecticut on May 15 filed an additional ULP charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over similar unlawful and discriminatory conduct at New Milford Hospital. The same firm was retained by WCHN last year in a failed attempt to subvert the lawful union organizing efforts of both facilities' medical technicians, clinicians and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
 
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. Follow the labor federation on Twitter at @AFTCT and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
 
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