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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lawrence and Memorial and its unionized workers reach a tentative contract agreement

Contract terms to be revealed Monday night after workers vote
By Will Collette

For nineteen days in December, a brief four day protest strike followed by a lock-out by management put 800 union nurses and health care workers at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, owner of Westerly Hospital, out on the street. The main issue was the practice of top management, led by $700,000 a year CEO Bruce Cummings, of trying to break the union by transferring work to non-union L&M subsidiaries.

The union filed unfair labor practice charges against management and the National Labor Relations Board agreed, bringing L&M in front of an administrative law judge to determine what remedy was called for.

Throughout the battle, union members stood strong, supported by the community and by state and local elected officials – Governor Dannel Malloy, the state Attorney General, the mayor of New London – against hard-ass management.

The union and the hospital issued a statement that they have negotiated a new contract that will be put to a vote of the 800 unionized health care workers today. Terms of the agreement were not revealed, noting that the union and hospital administration will hold a joint news conference on Monday night at 6:30 PM after voting closes and, presumably, the ballots, yeah and nay, on the contract are counted.

The scheduling of the joint news conference after the votes are counted is a strong signal that the union anticipates its members will ratify the contract.

The resolution of this dispute and the terms of this contract could hold major importance for Westerly Hospital whose workers face similar management practices of outsourcing union jobs to non-union wholly-owned subsidiaries.

Here is the message from the joint statement issued by the union and management:

A tentative agreement has been reached between Lawrence + Memorial and the unions representing its registered nurses (RNs) and license practical nurses (LPNs), health technicians and technologists. 
This global agreement encompasses both the issues currently before the National Labor Relations Board and new collective bargaining agreements for the nearly 800 union workers represented by AFT Locals 5049 and 5051.
The unions have scheduled a ratification vote for their members Monday, February 3, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
A joint news conference will be held at 6:30 p.m., Monday, at the Professional Development Center on the Hospital’s main campus at 365 Montauk Ave. in New London.
As part of the tentative agreement, both parties have agreed to withhold further comment until the news conference.