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Friday, December 6, 2013

Report from the Lawrence & Memorial labor war

Workers ready to talk; management continues to lock-out nurses and technicians
By Matt O’Connor

Editor’s Note: The New London Day reports that L&M management delivered its locked-out union workers what it calls its “last, best and final offer” for a contract that would end the lock-out. Management is also delaying a return to the bargaining table. Hopefully, the NLRB will take swift action on pending charges of management unfair labor practices and refusal to allow workers to come to work.

After two days without any talks to end the lockout by the corporation that operates L&M Hospital, their representatives have tentatively agreed to meet next week. Despite our best efforts to meet yesterday and again today, the first date they would make themselves available is Tuesday, December 10.

There are still details to be worked out, including the time, location, and the conditions for the session. 

The corporation’s representatives insisted on excluding the full membership of our unions and demanding that talks be restricted to the 11 members of our negotiating committee and our chief negotiator.

Our position has been consistent and in keeping with contract negotiations over the past two decades for our local unions at the hospital; a transparent process requires that it be open to all the nurses and techs.

Which begs the question, what is hospital management afraid of?

As a compromise, we offered to agree to these terms if the CEO of the corporation is present. He has not attended a single negotiating session before or after the lockout.

In the meantime, we are aiding our nearly 800 member registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, healthcare technologists and technicians with access to unemployment insurance and other critical assistance. 

Yesterday, over 400 attended a session we organized at our local union hall in New London with a crisis team from the State Department of Labor to help with filing their claims.

Additionally, Connecticut AFL-CIO Community Services liaison to the United Way of Southeast Connecticut Sharon Peccini came to share resources and information. She made our members aware of food banks, aid with heating and utility costs as well as social services available so their children have access to medical insurance during the lockout.

On Thursday, members of unions in the state’s building and construction trades joined us for a cookout and potluck lunch on the lockout picket line outside the hospital. Over 300 members and their families participated.