“Management has tried a number of ways to break us apart but it has only brought us closer together,” said Renee Stefanko, a radiological technologist with 13 years of patient care experience at Danbury Hospital. “It’s bad enough that they refused to recognize our free choice to unite for a voice on the job. Management refused to respect our lawful rights — and will now be prosecuted by the federal government for doing so,” said Stefanko.
Stefanko’s comments refer to the technical employees’ formal request for voluntary recognition of their free choice to form a union and subsequent attempts by management to subvert their legal rights. The healthcare professionals in early September delivered a letter to WCHN’s chief executive officer (CEO) calling for respect of a “democratic, fair” process consistent with national and state law for unionizing. Instead of agreeing to mutual negotiations, management has conducted a series of illegal attempts to discourage the technical employees from exercising rights protected under federal labor law. In its complaint, the NLRB has scheduled testimony to begin on January 13 at its Hartford regional office to hear evidence of the unfair labor practice charges against WCHN.
“We came together to take charge of our future and have a say in decisions that impact us, our patients, and their families,” said Gail Krompinger, a surgical technologist with 10 years of service at Danbury Hospital. “That’s why management should remain neutral while we prepare for our vote. They should trust us to make our own decision and respect the democratic process without any interference one way or the other,” said Krompinger.
Krompinger’s comments refer to the technical employees’ letter to CEO John Murphy in which they acknowledged a changing healthcare landscape and pledged a partnership “in helping our hospital adapt.” In their letter they also cautioned that “any further delay will not be in the best interest of our hospital or the community we serve.” In its decision, the NLRB directed WCHN to furnish a list of “eligible voters” within seven days and the secret ballot election is expected to be held before November 27.
“While we are very excited about the opportunity for Danbury Hospital techs and clinicians to ‘vote their voice,’ we are also very disappointed in WCHN’s leadership,” said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut. “After more than three decades of collaboration and partnership with our member nurses, management’s second-class treatment of its technical professionals is unnecessary,” said Peters, a former state senator.
Peters’ comments refer to the long-standing relationship between the members of the Danbury Nurses Union, Unit 47, AFT Local 5047, which represents approximately 600 registered nurses (RNs), and hospital management. The technical professionals cite negotiations earlier this year between Unit 47 and WCHN that produced a new three-year collective bargaining agreement as a significant factor in forming their union.
AFT Connecticut, the largest union of acute care hospital workers in the state, represents approximately 125 registered nurses at New Milford Hospital and 600 RNs at Danbury Hospital. Follow the labor federation on Twitter at @AFTCT and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aftct.
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