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Support Nurses in Connecticut!

Over the past several years health care reform and the restructuring of health care systems has brought tougher bargaining upon nurses and other healthcare professionals here in Oregon and across the country. Nurses everywhere are faced with an assault on our ability to practice in a work environment in which we can deliver quality care to our patients and community. It is becoming more difficult to influence determined employers who do not see the necessity of recognizing the professional voice of nurses and other bedside caregivers—whether the issue is safe staffing or even the right for representation itself. As we anticipate facing an anti-union ballot initiative in Oregon next year, other nurses are being forced now to make difficult choices of defending their own rights to contractual representation. Eight hundred AFT striking nurses and technicians at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, CT, have taken a stand resulting in their lockout from returning to work. We must stand together with these AFT nurses! ONA affiliated with the AFT in order to protect our professionalism and fight for all caregivers rights to be represented. We are stronger together.

Please take the time to read the message from Randi Weingarten, AFT President, below and to review the information below.

Thank you for your unity and support!

Lynda Pond, RN – Economic and General Welfare Chair
Paul Goldberg, RN – ONA Director of Labor Relations

The following is a message from AFT President Randi Weingarten

Dec. 1, 2013: Last night our union saw the beginning of a lockout and the dramatic end of the planned strike at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, CT where our brothers and sisters in the nurses’ and technicians unions went on strike Wednesday morning. (You can follow the course of the strike at “AFTunion” on Twitter and “AFT Connecticut” on Facebook.)

The workers had structured the strike to be a legal and self-limited show of strength while negotiations proceeded. They intended, after four days of picketing, to walk back into the hospital on Saturday evening for their 11 p.m. shifts.

But last night at 11 p.m. our nurses and techs, dressed in scrubs and ready to work, were met with locked doors and threats of arrest if found on hospital property.

L+M is the first hospital strike in Connecticut in almost 30 years. An extraordinary cast of politicians has tried to intervene on behalf of the workers. The governor of Connecticut, both U.S senators, a Congressman, the mayor and state representatives visited the strike line, joined me to speak at a Friday rally and sent letters imploring the hospital to go back to the table. While claiming neutrality, Dr. David Reisfeld, incoming president of the medical staff, told the local newspaper, “The sentiment of the medical staff is that the nurses and technical staff are like extended families, and we want them back.”

Friday night, in response to pressure, federal mediators brought hospital reps back to the table, but they had nothing to say and no progress was made. The hospital did make a promise to accept a letter from strikers at the edge of the hospital property on Saturday at 11 p.m., the hour of lockout, but even that small gesture was later vetoed by the hospital CEO.

Meanwhile surgeries have been cancelled and patients moved to other hospitals while 150-200 “replacement workers” attempt to do the work of 800 nurses and techs who now march outside.

The key contract issue is the need for L&M nurses and techs to follow the patients as the hospital’s corporate management shifts vital healthcare services out of the community hospital to satellite clinics, where experienced healthcare workers would be replaced by non-union outsiders.
The workers of L+M Hospital showed great courage and creativity tonight, waving signs in the darkness and chanting with hundreds of supporters outside the hospital doors. When confronted by locked doors, they took their statement of “unconditional intent to work” to a nearby tree and nailed it to the bark.

This fight is a critical collision of values; that is, should a community hospital chase profits, sinking wages and intimidated staff ? Or should a community hospital be staffed by a stable, experienced workforce of career professionals responsive to the community that supports it?

Has hospital care become a race to the bottom? As you know, many eyes are watching.

Your support is needed in the days ahead. You can help in three ways. Any AFT member in the area who can drive to the very lively strike line in New London will be welcome. Send an email to Darrin Nedrow at o Barbara Pallazzo at for more information.

Please spread the word to your colleagues, and stay tuned.

And you can read more in the article "L+M, union continue talks" by The Day, the local newspaper in Connecticut

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