Mediator to participate in hospital contract talks

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — A federal mediator is set to attend contract talks scheduled to resume Tuesday to help find common ground in stalled negotiations between Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and nurses and technicians.

The Day of New London reports (http://bit.ly/1bbZQMa ) that about 150 to 250 replacement nurses and technicians are on the job and the New London hospital is seeking more.

The hospital locked out the workers after their four-day strike ended on Saturday. Hospital President Bruce Cummings said union leaders have threatened more work stoppages.

“Our goal is to get our people back with a contract and no threat of intermittent strikes,” he said.

Matt O’Connor, spokesman for AFT Connecticut, said the union is focused on ending the lockout and getting the nurses back to work.

At the center of the dispute is the hospital’s transfer of workers, which the union says undermines job security. The hospital wants the flexibility of moving some outpatient services to physicians’ offices.

Lisa D’Abrosca, president of the union representing about 540 registered nurses, said the union’s latest offer would enable nurses and technicians whose jobs are transferred to affiliates outside the hospital to keep their jobs under the union contract, with renegotiated wages and benefits.

Cummings said the hospital could pledge to preserve the jobs of all the nurses and technicians in acute care areas, which would cover about 90 percent of the registered nurses and more than half of the licensed practical nurses and technicians.

The hospital wants to maintain the flexibility to move some outpatient services out of the hospital to affiliated physicians’ offices in the community, but it plans to do so only with a diabetes clinic that does not employ members of the registered nurses or the LPN-technicians bargaining units.

“There has been no wholesale transfer of clinical jobs out of the hospital, and none are planned,” Cummings said. “Acute care services are always going to remain at L+M and Westerly Hospital.”

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Information from: The Day, http://www.theday.com

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