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L+M Makes An Offer, AFT Responds Back

Though neither side has sat down to continue formal negotiations, both Lawrence + Memorial Hospital administrators and AFT healthcare union representatives have plenty to say about how to end the lockout.

Andy Parrella took this photo of locked out workers for his blog on Patch.
Andy Parrella took this photo of locked out workers for his blog on Patch.

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital administrators and AFT Healthcare Union, which represents nearly 800 nurses and healthcare techs, still haven't set a date for renewed negotiations to end the current lockout. There have, however, been a couple of developments, most notably an offer sent out via email by L+M Hospital which the hospital described as its last best offer. 

Here's The Press Release Sent Out By L+M

"In its latest good-faith effort to resolve the ongoing labor dispute, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital transmitted a new proposal to the union representing its RNs and LPN/techs yesterday.

The Hospital informed the union that if the membership ratifies the last, best and final offer proposed last week by Monday, December 16, all returning workers will receive a ratification bonus. If there is a successful ratification vote, the Hospital will end the lockout.

This new proposal, which was transmitted directly to the union negotiating team earlier today, is the latest effort by the Hospital to bring the labor action to a resolution and bring its employees back to work.

“We want our employees back where they belong – caring for our patients and our community,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce D. Cummings. “We are hopeful that the union will give careful consideration to this new proposal and allow our employees to vote.”

Job security has been the major sticking point throughout all of the negotiation sessions, with the union refusing to consider any proposal that doesn’t guarantee employment for all of its members.

The Hospital’s last, best and final offer presents significant steps toward achieving job security, said Cummings, who noted that no acute care services would be transferred to any other L+M-owned entity during the terms of the contract.

There are no plans in place, he said, to transfer non-acute work that would impact either of these bargaining units. However, should that happen during the duration of the contract, the Hospital’s offer provides significant support measures – including training, re-training, bumping rights and substantial severance payment – for any affected employees.

“We have provided the union with an offer that protects a clear majority of our employees,” said Cummings. “It’s important to know that the now expired contract contained no job security provisions at all – none. Given the economic climate and the changing dynamics of healthcare, providing 100 percent job security is not something we can do.”

“For more than 100 years,” Cummings said, “our employees have been the backbone of the Hospital. We believe our proposal is fair and strong given the current environment. We also believe our employees should have a chance to be heard. This is a chance to do that. More importantly, it’s a chance for them to get back to work.”

The offer comes a day after the union refused to attend the sixteenth scheduled negotiation session unless outside observers were allowed. The Hospital, which opposes that position, will file an unfair labor practice charge today against the union for its failure to negotiate in good faith.

The approximate 800 union members went on strike November 27 at 6 a.m. The Hospital imposed a lockout at the conclusion of the strike at 11 p.m. on November 30 because the union had threatened intermittent strikes."

Here's The AFT Union's Response From Spokesman Matt O'Connor 

"The human resources director for L&M Hospital sent an apparent "offer" to the chief negotiator on our committee representing the facility's nearly 800 nurses and healthcare techs. It was delivered by email, not presented in a negotiations session.

L&M Corporation's have still not agreed to any future date to resume negotiations to end their lockout since canceling yesterday's session. While our negotiating committee of nurses and techs has not yet fully reviewed this latest "offer," at first glance it appears to be the same proposal we have already previously rejected. 

What is different are "signing bonuses' offered to the nurses and techs if they approve this latest proposal. Clearly, the corporation's representatives are desperate if they feel they have to bribe their nurses and techs into accepting this proposal. Which, if no different than previous proposals already rejected by our negotiating committee in talks and by our full membership in their strike vote authorization, is inadequate to address our patient care concerns.  

It's bad enough the corporation is putting that care at risk now by locking out their professional caregivers. Our nurses and techs will not have their hand forced into voting for something that puts their patients' future care in jeopardy. Details of the corporation's "offer" were apparently sent to the press less than 30 minutes later after being sent to us and before we had a chance to confirm it had been received. 

[On Tuesday] the hospital's spokesman said that what was needed is for both sides to commit to "coming into a room, and sitting down, and having face-to-face conversations." We couldn't agree more.  Yet L&M's human resources director is instead negotiating by email and through the press.  

We will therefore not be responding to this "offer" by email or in the press. We are ready to discuss it with the corporation’s representatives when they agree to resume talks to end their lockout and reach a mutual agreement on patient care delivery.  

Further, this proposal did not come from the corporation's chief spokesperson who would be the only authorized person empowered to present proposals in negotiations. If the corporation has changed their chief spokesperson they need to inform us immediately."

Here's The Letter L+M Hospital Sent To Employees December 4

Dear Employees,

We have engaged in numerous negotiation sessions with the union in an effort to reach agreement on a new contract. To date, we have met 15 times and have made a variety of offers to the union in an effort to resolve our differences.

Last night, we made our last, best and final offer to the union. Our proposal includes the following on the important topic of job security:

1. A commitment that the Hospital will not transfer any acute care services currently performed by bargaining unit members to any other L+M entities.

2. A commitment that if a union member is laid off due to the transfer of a non-acute service from the Hospital to another L+M entity, the affected employee will be provided with the following options and support, in addition to those already in the contract:

a. Priority over any other employees to any vacant bargaining unit position within the Hospital, if qualified.

b. The opportunity to bump any less senior employee in the bargaining unit, if qualified.

c. Eligibility for training in a related position, if it is reasonably likely to result in a placement to that position within six months, and the employee is still working in the Hospital in some capacity during that time;

d. If for some reason the employee can’t take advantage of those opportunities and is laid off, they will remain on a recall list for a period of two years and will have priority over any other employees for any vacant positions, if qualified;

e. Alternatively, employees can choose to receive up to six months’ severance and benefit continuation in lieu of exercising any of the other offered opportunities

f. The same options for retraining and priority placement will apply if an employee, as the result of a transfer of non-acute care services, has their work schedule reduced by more than eight hours/week.

We believe our offer is very responsive to the concerns expressed by the union concerning job security. To our great disappointment, the union has once again rejected our offer regarding job security. We believe their latest refusal is a disservice to you and your coworkers. The union refuses to acknowledge the reality of changes occurring in health care markets nationwide. If L+M does not respond to those changes, our ability to deliver timely, quality care will disappear. If we allow that to happen, we will all lose - patients, staff and our community.

We are also disappointed that the union has refused to change its position on any other issues in these negotiations; in fact, they have refused to even discuss them. For this reason, the Hospital felt compelled to put its last, best, and final offer on the table.

Our full proposal is available for your review at lmfirsthand.org/negotiations

We urge you to express your views of our proposal to your union and request that your voice be heard through a vote of union membership. 

L + M's Final Offer Expires December 16

LAWRENCE & MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
LAST, BEST AND FINAL PACKAGE PROPOSAL FOR CHANGES IN LOCAL 5049 LAWRENCE & MEMORIAL REGISTERED PROFESSIONAL NURSES AND
LOCAL 5051 LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSES/TECHNICAL EMPLOYEES 2009—2013 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS

As Revised December 11, 2013

On December 3, 2013 the Hospital transmitted to the Union its last, best and final package proposal for changes in the parties’ collective bargaining agreements. The Hospital hereby revises its proposal, as follows:

  1. If the Hospital’s last, best and final package proposal is accepted and ratified by the employees in the bargaining units no later than 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 16, 2013 the Hospital will make the following payments to regularly scheduled employees (less taxes, as necessary):

    1. Full-time employees (36 hours or more) $1,000

    2. Part-time employees (20-35 hours) $500

    3. Supplemental part-time employees (4 - 19 hours) $250

  2. The Hospital’s offer of the payments will expire if its last, best and final package proposal is not accepted and ratified by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 16, 2013.

  3. In all other respects the Hospital’s last, best and final package proposal remains unchanged.

  4. Because the Hospital has transmitted its last, best and final package proposal, as revised herein, and because the Union has repeatedly threatened to engage in intermittent strikes in the future, the Hospital is willing to end the lockout only if the Union agrees to bring the Hospital’s proposal to a vote, and the vote is for ratification. Following ratification the Hospital will return employees to work as soon as possible as operations are resumed. The Hospital proposes that representatives of the Hospital and the Union would meet to determine the order and manner of return. Pay and benefits for employees will resume after they have returned to work. 

William Desmond December 13, 2013 at 07:15 AM
AFT will never let their members vote on this. It is not within the agenda of the AFT leadership. They AFT leadership will continue to use their members to get lots of press and as a tool for organizing other workers. The end result will be the L&M nurses, techs and LPN's will be the big losers. This is not an unfair labor practice strike it is a PR campaign by AFT to demonstrate how they will stand up for the worker to big and powerful business.

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