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Caregivers at L&M Hospital “Won’t be Bullied,” Remain Committed to Patients and their Families

“This is just more of the same scare tactics the corporation has been engaged in,” said L&M Hospital registered nurse (RN) Lisa D’Abrosca. “We filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over threats made to nurses and caregivers in an obvious attempt to discourage them for exercising their right to strike,” said D’Abrosca, president of AFT Local 5049, the union representing approximately 540 RNs at the hospital.
 
D’Abrosca’s comments refer to charges filed November 13 with the NLRB over management’s intimidation of employees prepared to engage in a job action protected by federal law. LMC administrators violated employees’ rights by threatening permanent replacement, a situation exacerbated by the CEO’s public announcement of their intention to block employees from returning to work after a strike.
 
“The corporation is attempting to frighten us into second-guessing our commitment to this community,” said L&M Hospital sleep lab technician Stephanie Johnson. “We remain hopeful that we can reach a mutual agreement and avoid a strike. However, we are standing strong and won’t be bullied into giving up on our patients and our community,” said Johnson, who serves as president of AFT Local 5051, representing the hospital’s approximately 250 LPNs and healthcare technicians.
 
Johnson’s comments refer to efforts by both unions to establish protections for patients and their families as the corporation shifts services and the jobs of caregivers away from the hospital. The issue is the primary hold-up in negotiations for successor agreements to contracts that expired November 16 covering the two unions’ combined membership of nearly 800 healthcare professionals. After talks last Thursday failed to produce a resolution, a federal mediator successfully urged the corporation to return to the table on Tuesday.
 
Members of both unions earlier this month authorized a strike over unfair labor practices, and leadership notified hospital management a four day work stoppage could begin as soon as Wednesday. An informational picket outside the hospital is scheduled tomorrow in order to inform the public of the corporation’s violation of federal labor law and its impact on patient care services. 
 
“The corporation is just trying to have it both ways,” said D’Abrosca. “They’re saying that they can’t afford to ensure community access to quality patient care, but they’re willing to spend untold millions on ‘scabs’ to replace their experienced caregivers. Worse, they’re willing to put taxpayers on the hook for the cost of providing unemployment benefits to locked out employees,” she said.
 
D’Abrosca’s comments refer to claims by LMC’s CEO that nurses and caregivers are asking for commitments they “wouldn’t be able to keep or afford.” The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s (DPH) 2012 annual report released earlier this month shows that L&M is among the most financially robust of the state’s 29 acute care facilities. The report reveals the hospital had the highest number of days of cash on hand, a key measure  of fiscal strength, and one of the highest average total profit margins.
 
The caregivers are this week ramping up efforts this week as part of their “I Am L+M” community education and engagement campaign. An ad appears in today’s edition of The Day, and additional public service announcements are scheduled to air on the region’s cable TV networks. An interactive website, www.IAmLandM.org, includes a petition and letter writing tool, as well as previous ads and informational videos on the corporation’s labor and community practices.
 
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AFT Connecticut, the largest union of acute care hospital workers in the state, represents approximately 1,600 registered nurses, LPNs, technicians, and healthcare workers at L&M Hospital in New London. Follow the labor federation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
 
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