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Advancing Workplace Safety Because “We Stuck By Our Priorities”

Leaders of our Natchaug Hospital Unions United in mid February finalized negotiations on a successor contract for the behavioral care facility’s registered nurses after nearly a year at the table. Managers and executives yielded to months of pressure and agreed to several previously unresolved proposals put forward by our affiliate’s bargaining team (photos, below).
“Our top objective was always a safer workplace,” said Karen Ashlaw, a special education teacher at Natchaug’s Joshua Center Northeast. “Because our nurses never gave up, we made real progress. I’m proud that we stuck by our priorities,” added Ashlaw, the president of our local affiliate.
 
Lapses in COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) protocols, escalating incidents of workplace violence and dangerously short staffing necessitated the relentless focus on safety. With guidance and support from AFT Connecticut Field Representative Logan Place, the bargaining team last fall organized a public demonstration to raise awareness and build support. 
 
Click here for press reporting on the informational picket outside the hospital’s Mansfield campus. 
 
“We wanted our neighbors to know we had their backs, just like they had ours,” said Ashlaw.
 
The team took further steps with a coordinated advertising cable television and digital media advertising campaign that also delivered their message to the media market for Hartford HealthCare (HHC)’s headquarters.
 
Click here to watch the members’ video spot featuring highlights from their earlier demonstration.
 
The first ad helped break the logjam; managers and HHC representatives a week after its launch agreed to a final settlement. They relented on respirator fit testing, following federal disease control guidelines for additional protective gear and further empowering the existing staffing committee.
 
Members three weeks later voted overwhelmingly to ratify the new agreement, which also included general wage increases, a retroactive “success share” payment and a new seniority bonus.
 
Click here for additional photos of members casting their ballots on their proposed contract.
 
Six other local affiliates’ collective bargaining wins were announced since our January report (an additional seventh settlement was at press time not yet finalized).
 
Click here for the announcement of our East Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals’ vote to approve their new contract.
 
Click here for the update on recently ratified contracts for our CHS United members.
 
Click here for a photo of our East Hartford School RNs union negotiating committee celebrating their new agreement.
 
Click here for photos of our Danbury Nurses Union members voting on their new collective bargaining agreement.
 
Click here for the update on our Waterford Federation of Classroom Teachers finalizing their new contract.
 
Click here for the announcement of the first contract won by our RGH LPNs and Technical Employees United.
 
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