Negotiations were canceled late on December 9 because neither side could agree who should be included in the talks. Union leaders representing nearly 800 Lawrence + Memorial RNs and LPN/techs said they felt observers should be allowed to attend. The hospital disagreed.
"Their representatives had indicated they would not meet again unless talks were "closed," meaning they would be limited to members of our union's negotiating committee. We have been clear on this point. We cannot agree to further disenfranchising our members and allowing the corporation's record of false claims and mischaracterizations of the issues being discussed to continue," said AFT union spokesman Matthew O'Connor in a statement released on Tuesday.
"By taking this position, the union is showing it is more focused on theatrics and grandstanding than it is on negotiating. Given the seriousness of this situation, we are deeply disappointed by this development," L+M said in a statement announcing the cancelation of talks on Monday night. "This position is unlawful, but more importantly, it is unfortunate. The Hospital will be filing an unfair labor practice against the union for its failure to negotiate in good faith."
The session, which would have been the 16th meeting between the two parties, was scheduled to begin Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Best Western Olympic Inn in Groton. The AFT's negotiating team showed up at the venue with supporters in tow, the union said, prepared to talk if L+M Hospital should have a change of heart, but no one from the hospital turned out.
"We want our employees back, but without a willingness to negotiate at such a critical time, that will, unfortunately, be delayed until the union is ready to resume focused discussions," L+M stated.
"It is imperative that the board get their CEO and hospital managers to end the lockout, return these caregivers to their patients' bedside, and restore the community's trust in their community hospital," O'Connor stated.
As the lockout enters its 10th day, the union is working to assist the nurses and health care technicians with filing unemployment claims and obtaining medical and dental insurance through COBRA.