“We are so excited to be going to an election,” said Kathy Lavoie, a patient coordinator at LMMG’s Howard Street facility. “The labor board agreed with us that we should be able to have our own vote and our own voice. We look forward to sitting down and negotiating a contract with our employer to improve conditions at LMMG. And we know the whole community will benefit from our work here,” said Lavoie.
Lavoie’s comments refer to the NLRB’s finding that the 70 nurses and healthcare workers at the Howard Street facility “constitute an appropriate unit” and directing a union election among the employees. The workers initially sought to join with their colleagues in one of three local AFT Connecticut-affiliated unions representing caregivers at the Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital main campus. A vote on forming a “stand-alone unit” of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), patient coordinators, surgical schedulers, patient care navigators, and medical assistants is expected between October 31 and November 7.
“I am so proud of these hardworking nurses, techs and healthcare workers who said ‘no’ to the hospital bullies,” said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut and former state senator from the region. “We know from years of experience representing Lawrence + Memorial’s other caregivers that a voice on the job reduces employee turn-over and increases the quality of care. That’s why the union difference will be good for the whole community that relies on LMMG for outpatient services,” said Peters.
Peters’ comments refer to Lawrence + Memorial Corporation (LMC), the parent corporation that operates LMMG, in addition to L+M Hospital and the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeastern Connecticut (VNASC). The nurses and home health aides who serve patients of the VNASC are also represented by AFT Connecticut and this week reached tentative agreement on new contracts following joint negotiations.
“For the first time, we sat side-by-side with visiting nurses in negotiations with our employer,” said Christine Moretti a home health aide with 10 years of patient care experience with the Southeastern VNA. “Forming our union of aides last year was the best decision we ever made. And by joining with our colleagues for negotiations this year, we won a strong first contract with fair wages and lower health insurance costs. I feel like I have a whole new job,” said Moretti.
Despite a settlement agreement reached in February with leaders of two L+M Hospital unions, LMC fought organizing efforts by the LMMG Howard Street facility employees. The estimated legal costs to the non-profit corporation of its protracted fight at the NLRB are in excess of $100,000.00. These are in addition to more than $17 million LMC spent last winter for illegally locking-out nurses and techs at L+M and their resulting back wages.
AFT Connecticut represents approximately 10,000 health professionals in the state, including 1,600 nurses, technicians, and healthcare workers at L+M Hospital in New London, and 130 nurses and home health aides based at the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeastern Connecticut in Waterford. Follow the labor federation on Twitter at @AFTCT and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
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