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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lawrence and Memorial strike update

Lots of picketers in the pouring rain, lots of solidarity and public support, management agrees to resume negotiations, and the union hands out turkey baskets.
L&M's CEO Bruce Cummings, pay package $702,147, blames everyone
but himself for these troubles at the hospital
By Will Collette

More than 300 registered nurses and LPNs signed in to walk the picket line at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in some pretty grim weather. Others simply showed up, grabbed a sign and walked and changed in the rain.

Supporters, allied groups, family, former patients, community leaders and students joined in, as did other AFT union members from Danbury Hospital and Connecticut Technical High Schools. 

A delegation from the UNAP members at Westerly Hospital came over to support their sisters and brothers at L&M, which of course now owns Westerly Hospital, too. A delegation of AFSCME members from the New London Public Works Department also joined in.

Connecticut State Senate President Don Williams and New London Mayor Daryl Finizio came out in support. The unions also picketed L&M Corporation’s subsidiary, the Pequot Health Center in Groton.

The union plans to end their strike over L&M’s unfair labor practices (click here for details) on Saturday at 11 PM, but L&M management has said it will “lock out” the union workers and operate with strike-breakers (“scabs”).

The union has formally asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to intervene and seek an injunction against L&M to prevent them from locking out the workers. Since the NLRB has already accepted the union charges against hospital management, there’s a pretty good chance the NLRB will agree to the union request.

L&M management has agreed to resume contract negotiations on Tuesday and allow the federal mediator back into the talks. The union says it is ready to talk sooner than Tuesday to try to reach a settlement as soon as possible, but apparently the hospital brass doesn’t.

The union says it will continue picketing through Thanksgiving and are hoping Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Joe Courtney will be joining them on the line. They are also still planning a big rally at the hospital at noontime on Friday.

The union also distributed turkey baskets to striking members.

I can tell you from direct personal experience that no union wants to strike, but if you have been following the issues at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, L&M CEO Bruce Cummings left the union with no choice. The workers are going to want to go back to work, have Cummings to bargain in good faith and get a fair contract that’s good for them and their families and good for L&M.

And giving how closely tied Westerly Hospital is to this situation, we also have a lot riding on the line.