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Nurses and Healthcare Workers Commit to “Economic Civil Rights for All” in CT’s Community Hospitals

“The labor movement has a long history of standing behind all workers when they are fighting for justice,” said Melodie Peters, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and president of AFT Connecticut. “The NAACP’s report shows that too many of our hospitals are short-changing their communities and excluding a valuable workforce. We look forward to working with the civil rights organization to reverse this injustice,” she said.
 
The NAACP’s report found an inequitable representation of people of color, from service-related jobs to executive positions, and in procurement of private contracts among the state’s acute care hospitals. The survey yielded greater disparity among institutions where the workforce lacks union representation and where employers have attempted to suppress their employees’ efforts to unite for voice on the job.
 
“This study shows that there is still work to be done to close the equity gap,” said Jonathan Ellis, a respiratory therapist at L&M Hospital in New London and a member of AFT Local 5051. “I see too little diversity in the outside contractors hired by the corporation that runs our hospital, especially when you look at the unemployment rates among our communities of color. That’s got to change if we are to truly reflect the diversity of the region we serve,” said Ellis.
 
In their statement, AFT Connecticut’s Executive Committee commits to partner with the NAACP to reverse unfair and discriminatory tactics that exclude minorities from employment, advancement, and procurement opportunities. The federation’s leadership also plans to expand on a new approach spearheaded by its members working at L&M Hospital to resolve inequities through collective bargaining with their employer.
 
“These hospitals are the largest economic engines in our communities, and they should reflect the communities that they serve,” said Scot X. Esdaile, President of the Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches. “We are excited to have the support of the union and the workers they represent on this issue. We’re looking forward to joining with them, as well as local vendors, hospital administrators, and their governing boards, to achieve fairness and equity in the industry,” he said.
 
The labor federation’s leaders are also planning to educate the general public, elected officials, and community organizations on the issues identified in the report. The Executive Committee’s statement is the basis for a resolution submitted to the Connecticut AFL-CIO in support of caregivers and healthcare workers fighting inequities in their hospitals. Delegates from the state labor umbrella’s affiliated unions will vote next week on AFT Connecticut’s resolution during the AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention being held in Mashantucket.
 
AFT Connecticut is a labor federation of 28,000 hard-working women and men from more than 90 local unions throughout the state serving in PreK-12 education, higher education, healthcare and municipal and state governments. Follow the union on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
 
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