On Tuesday, December 3, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and AFT health care union representatives will return to the bargaining table in an attempt to reach an agreement. The union represents nearly 800 nurses and healthcare technicians who held a four-day strike that ended on Saturday to protest unfair labor practices.
At issue is the hospital's decision to move services away from the main hospital campus in New London and establish free-standing health care centers elsewhere in the community. The healthcare workers say they want to move with their patients to the new sites rather than lose their jobs.
Since the strike ended, L+M Hospital has followed through with its promise to lock out all the workers involved in the labor action and use replacement workers to provide patient care. On the eve of the negotiations, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen weighed in on the matter, urging the hospital to allow union members to return to work rather than waiting until an agreement has been reached.
He issued the following statement regarding the ongoing labor dispute at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital:
“As we approach the third full day of the worker lockout, I call upon L + M management and AFT to commit themselves to achieving a negotiated resolution. I welcome reports that talks with the federal mediator will reconvene tomorrow. I caution against any actions that may heighten tensions, impede productive discussions or threaten interference in the delivery of quality healthcare to the communities that rely on L + M.
“With those concerns in mind, I encourage L + M to reconsider its decision to lock out workers, who have called off their strike and expressed a willingness to return to their important work caring for L + M’s patients. L + M need not wait for negotiations to start, or to bear fruit, before permitting workers to return to their jobs. My hope is that, through discussions, an amicable resolution can be achieved that both preserves good middle class jobs and guarantees the sustainable delivery of quality healthcare by L + M into the future.
“Because the Attorney General has a responsibility to represent the broader public interest, including by drawing attention to the important issues implicated by this dispute, I believe it is appropriate for me to express these views. However, in order that I can express myself further as appropriate, and so as to avoid any confusion or appearance of conflict, I am recusing myself from any legal or regulatory action that may arise from or relate to the dispute between L + M and its workers. The Office of the Attorney General, however, continues to serve as counsel to the Department of Public Health and remains available to provide it with any legal assistance it may require.”