By Jayne Keedle
Negotiations between Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and AFT healthcare union, which represents nearly 800 nurses and healthcare technicians who staged a strike protesting unfair labor practices last week, ended at 6 p.m. last night with no resolution in sight.
The union suggested continuing the negotiations but L+M Hospital administrators felt the talks would go too late. The hospital offered to resume negotiations today at 10 a.m. but the union told the labor negotiator its representatives would be unable to meet today. Union leaders are scheduled to go to Hartford today to provide affidavits to the National Labor Relations Board as part of their request for an injunction to end the lockout.
The next talks are likely to be held December 6. In the meantime, L+M corporation’s lockout of nearly 800 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and healthcare techs and technologists remains in effect. Replacement workers brought in by the hospital are providing patient care under the watchful eye of Connecticut Department of Health monitors.
Here's How Both Parties Viewed The Negotiations Yesterday
Both sides have a different take on how yesterday's talks went and what the sticking points are. Here's the hospital administrations point of view, released in a press statement by L+M Hospital last night:
"The L+M Hospital negotiating team presented yet another proposal in an attempt to move the needle in discussions with the two bargaining units representing our RNs and LPN/techs.
Unfortunately, the union’s negotiating team was focused on one issue only – the notion of ‘transferring work’ from L+M to any of its affiliates.
On multiple occasions, the Hospital tried to discuss other outstanding issues. The union repeatedly refused to do so – remaining solely focused on one issue and one issue only. There was no willingness at all to discuss any other contractual elements in an effort to make some progress.
We value our employees, and we want them back. We hope to soon reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides and allows that to happen. In order to do so, we need productive dialogue and a willingness to negotiate."
Here's the AFT's point of view, released in a press statement from union spokesman Matt O'Connor yesterday:"LMC’s latest counterproposal on the patient care issues at the heart of this dispute demonstrates their intention to so dramatically change our community hospital that it will no longer be recognizable to the people of the greater New London region. Their representatives actually said they intend to let the hospital get “out of the business” of delivering certain vital health services.
Our concern is that the corporation is trying to peel away profitable services and move them away from our community hospital, leaving it to wither away. We have always said we are fighting for quality patient care. This is a proposal we cannot accept and a direction the community would certainly reject.
Every day that the corporation’s lockout drags on, they deny the community the level of quality patient care they need and deserve. Additionally, the corporation’s reps insisted on keeping negotiations closed to our negotiating committee and excluding the rest of our membership.
It’s bad enough that they locked the nurses and techs out of the hospital; now they’re trying to lock them out of negotiations."