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How Lawrence & Memorial Hospital Employees Are Dealing With The Lock Out

After failing to meet as scheduled on Friday, AFT union representatives and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital officials have agreed to resume talks on December 10.

AFT Union leaders (from left) Stephanie D. Johnson, Lisa J. D'Abrosca, Greg Kotecki
AFT Union leaders (from left) Stephanie D. Johnson, Lisa J. D'Abrosca, Greg Kotecki
A Press Release from AFT Connecticut

Professional patient care providers locked out of Lawrence & Memorial (L&M) Hospital a week ago by their employer will have access to financial aid through the efforts of their union. Lawrence & Memorial Corporation (LMC) last Saturday cut off pay and terminated medical and dental coverage for nearly 800 registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), healthcare technicians and technologists and their families. 

AFT Connecticut and its national union yesterday set up a militancy/defense fund that has already raised over $20,000.00 to provide relief with the economic hardship of the lockout. 

"I knew I had to stand up for my community and for my patients," said Alison Silva, a CAT scan technologist with 10 years experience at L&M Hospital. "I am 35 weeks pregnant and the corporation has canceled my health insurance. I still think we are doing the right thing, but I just can’t believe they would be so cruel," said Silva, a member of AFT Local 5051, the union representing the hospital's approximately 250 LPNs and technicians. 

Silva's comments refer to letters she and co-workers began receiving on Thursday advising that they had been falsely terminated and that their medical and dental insurance plans were canceled. The letters indicate a December 1 end date for coverage in violation of a legal requirement of a minimum of 20 days notice prior to termination of employees' medical benefits. 

Union leaders and staff over the past two days have assisted nurses and techs in filing over 300 complaints with the Connecticut Department of Labor over the matter. 

"The outpouring of support from our patients, their families, and the entire community has been amazing," said Lisa D'Abrosca, a registered nurse with 10 years experience providing patient care at L&M Hospital and president of AFT Local 5049, which represents about 540 RNs at the hospital. "The amount that's been given to the defense fund in less than 24 hours shows us that we're not alone in our struggle. And the people from all walks of life coming to walk the lockout picket lines with us every day give us strength to keep going."   

D'Abrosca's comments refer to ongoing support for her locked out colleagues from the community as well civic and labor organizations and state and local elected officials. Connecticut Building and Construction Trades Council union members on Wednesday organized a cookout and potluck lunch on the picket line outside the hospital attended by more than 300. 

State Attorney General George Jepsen and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Friday were among the political leaders to walk the line with nurses and techs. Students from East Lyme High School on Saturday organized a contingent sporting their athletic teams' maroon colors to come demonstrate support for the hospital's caregivers. 

"This community understands that we've always been there for them," said Stephanie Johnson, an L&M sleep lab technician with 12 years of bedside care experience. "They're not falling for all the false and misleading claims that hospital management keeps making about why they've locked us out. We want them to know that we appreciate their trust in us.”  

Johnson, who also serves as Local 5051's president, referred to the latest ads in the "I Am L+M" public awareness effort, launched in October to unite the hospital’s caregivers and the community they serve. A fifth public service announcement began airing Wednesday on area cable television networks that features New London's mayor, local civil rights leader Don Wilson, and area healthcare advocate Ocean Pellett. A new print ad thanking the people of the region for their ongoing support is scheduled to appear in today's edition of The Day. 

"We hope the corporation's representatives are finally ready to end their lockout," said Melodie Peters, an LPN who worked at L&M Hospital for 15 years. "And I hope they understand that this isn’t about their corporate image. This is about access to the quality patient care the people of this region deserve from their non-profit, community hospital." 

Peters is also president of AFT Connecticut and served the region in the state senate for 12 years. Efforts to resume negotiations to reach a mutual resolution to end the corporation's lockout entered their seventh day on Saturday at 11:00 p.m. The first date LMC's representatives would make themselves available for talks is Tuesday, December 10. 

In the meantime, the nurses and techs will maintain round-the-clock picketing to publicly protest the lockout at L&M Hospital’s main campus in New London. Demonstrations are also scheduled to continue outside LMC's Pequot Health Center in Groton and Lawrence & Memorial Cancer Center in Waterford.

On Friday, L+M Hospital released the following statement:

At the request of the federal mediator, we look forward to returning to the negotiating table on Tuesday, December 10, at 1 p.m., with the bargaining units that represent our RNs and LPN/techs. As we have for 15 previous sessions, we are ready to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable contract that will return our employees to what they do best – taking care of the patients in our community.
Plat Fox December 08, 2013 at 09:33 AM
L & M Staff should at least call folks who have scheduled appointments. My friend went to her scheduled appointment only to be told it was cancelled due to the strike. We all have empathy towards the Strikers but it's sad to think L & M is letting their patients down. C'Mon big CEO's let's continue to provide services to folks who need medical attention! You should be ashamed that you re letting not only your employees down but now your patients! Backus is starting to look better and batter. Shame on you L & M Bigwigs!
Huddy December 08, 2013 at 05:18 PM
OK, so, let's address the latest full page add that L&M has published to really "set the record straight"! Sunday Edition: "It's time to vote: 1st paragraph, TRUE Paragraph 2:Job Security isn't the right phrase, but OK, I'll give 'em that...true...(it is more like following the patients and service when that said service is shifted from the hospital to their own owned practice down the street) Paragraph 3. Membership CAN decide for themselves when there is a tentative agreement; which does not exist right now! membership does not vote on proposals.and on Nov 14th, they DID vote to go out on a unfair labor strike for the NLRB charge of shifting service to themselves down the street taking with them, furniture, IT dept and computers, but not the employess whom performed these services! Paragraph 4.They can "call" all they want, membership does not vote on proposals!, only on tentative agreements Last paragraphs: once again, membership DID vote! And "for the record"; we WANT to get back to work; the hospital locked EVERYONE out last Saturday might and told us we cannot go back to work! Also, they do not mention how they abruptly cancelled everyones' health insurance on Dec 1st without giving proper 15 day notice ( 300 complaints, so far, have been filed with Dept of Labor).Also evidently, colleagues on the inside who did not get locked out wanted to conduct a toy drive for locked out employees' children and were told by their managers, they will be fired if they do...nice, huh...Oh, and lets not forget all the little white lies published in the day( yes, the same "Day" where one of the hospitals negotiating teams members was a HR Director for 23 yrs and chief of staff), regarding bargaining at any time...they were offered many dates and refused them all, including 6 day BEFORE the strike!...Just for the record...
MrT December 09, 2013 at 09:31 AM
I know this union, I know this hospital, and I know those incredible people out on strike. If the hospital's latest offer was brought to a vote, I bet it would pass. I read all 12 pages thoroughly and think it is a pretty solid offer. The union leadership is using the nurses and techs as pawns to push the union agenda. This issue is far bigger than NL county. This has garnished national attention in organized labor. As a corporation, L&M is entitled to make what necessary changes are needed to remain economically solvent and the union is unrealistic. If the hospital is hangcuffed by the union in every decision, then there may be no hospital left in 5 years for these employees to work at. Bring it to a vote- I know a lot of people who would vote for the proposal.
Eugenie Kelly December 09, 2013 at 08:36 PM
(I do not Work at L&M nor do any of my immediate family members) As a community member who has experienced 4 generations of life, death, and heart break in the very halls of L & M. I can say that in recent years I saw, experienced, and heard of the decline in services in the ER. A horrific MVA and the Hospice of a young family member required ER services. While there I no longer saw local Dr.'s in the ER-I learned the ER was subcontracted out. OK we still had the nurses and techs to see us through the processes life throws at you. They have consistently grieved, celebrated, and held their breath with our community members at different stages in life, and they are apart our community too. At the very least they deserve respect, dignity, and an employer who DEMONSTRATES a concern for patient care sitting across from them at the negotiating table. I am Disappointed in the Board, the CEO, and I don't want to forget Mr. O'Farrell (he who over did it kissing the Blarney stone!!) spokesman for the hospital. This new breed of management has no idea about our community, and it seems to me they (management and the board) are trying to make our hospital the Walmart of health care. I don't like Walmart and that style of management has no business in the health care industry. So for now as long as the strike continues my family will go to Backus or Yale. That's the Healthy choice for us!

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