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Community Shows Support For L+M's Locked Out Workers

Talks between the AFT Healthcare Union and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital resume Tuesday, December 10

Locked out health care workers enjoy a little holiday cheer at New London's Elks Club. Credit: Gary Rasmussen
Locked out health care workers enjoy a little holiday cheer at New London's Elks Club. Credit: Gary Rasmussen

While the outcome of the lockout and labor negotiations at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital is far from certain, one thing is clear—locked out health care workers have plenty of supporters. 

AFT healthcare union leaders and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital representatives are set to continue their negotiations on December 10. The night before, locked out nurses, healthcare technicians and their families enjoyed a pasta dinner and entertainment by Steve Elci and Friends, magicians, and even a visit from Santa at the Elks Club in New London. 

The event was organized by Angela V. Spinnato-Rasmussen as a show of support for the workers, who have been locked out by L+M Hospital since the AFT union ended its four-day strike protesting unfair labor practices on November 30

Health care workers braving freezing temperatures to stand on the "lock out" line outside of L+M hospital have also received warm greetings and hot food thanks to members of unions in the state’s building and construction trades, which held a cookout and a potluck lunch outside the hospital last week. 

They've also been joined by politicians, including Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Secretary of State Denise Merrill, and have the support of New London Mayor Daryl Finizio, and other local elected officials. Gov. Dannel Malloy and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey have also stated their support for the healthcare workers and urged a speedy resolution to the negotiations. 

While the talks continue, locked out workers are also trying to find ways to make ends meet.  Last week, more than 400 of the nearly 800 union members attended a session organized by the AFT at its New London union hall with a crisis team from the State Department of Labor to help with filing their unemployment claims.

Connecticut AFL-CIO Community Services liaison to the United Way of Southeast Connecticut Sharon Peccini was also on hand with information about food banks, aid with heating and utility costs as well as social services available so their children have access to medical insurance during the lockout. 

The AFT last week established an economic hardship fund to assist locked out workers. Within 24 hours, it had $20,000 in the kitty. 

On Monday, the union organized a round-table discussion in New London as part of a national "Day of Action" to talk about the lockout and the changes regarding community hospitals and access to quality, affordable healthcare. The labor dispute between L+M Hospital and the union hinges on L+M corporation's shift of services away from the hospital setting. 

Participants included ​NAACP New London Chapter President Don Wilson, United Action CT Healthcare Task Force Co-Chair Ocean Pellett, St. Francis House Director Anne Scheibner, St. Mary's Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church's Father Bob Washabaugh, All Souls Church Reverend Carolyn Patierno, CT Universal Healthcare Foundation Organizer Lynne Ide, New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, members of the New London City Council, leaders and members of the three unions representing L&M Hospital's caregivers.

The key discussions, however, will be those that resume on Tuesday between L+M Hospital and AFT healthcare union representatives. 
George Lazare December 09, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Hopefully L&M will hold its position and all these strikers will be replaced by decent people that want to earn a decent wage and who really care for the people they serve..Enough of this UNION thugery and the wall of shame. The union and its members are DISPICABLE... Ill side with the scabs as the union intelects call tyhem
silas merrimack December 09, 2013 at 09:38 PM
And we can stand with the nurses who are highlighting greedy corporate practices of "big hospital" industries. Keep fighting, and as long as you continue to be transparent and genuine the community will support you. Tell us more about the details of your current complaints, break it down, and let the community help support what is best.
William Desmond December 10, 2013 at 08:03 AM
These union officials want all their members to be allowed in the bargaining meetings. I agree but it should be all 800 union members, that will be a show alright and nothing will be accomplished. What kind of idiot from AFT proposed this idea?

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