Union nurses went on strike in September and now employees in another union will strike for two days over negotiations.
WINDHAM, Conn. — Windham Hospital healthcare workers announced on Sunday that they intend to strike for two days starting Monday morning over union negotiations.
There are nearly 250 members in Local 5099. It includes technical and support staff such as X-ray technicians, kitchen staff, and cardiologists. Heather Howlett is the president and says insurance is the main reason they will strike.
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“It took a lot of time and thinking before doing it because it’s very difficult for our members,” she said. “We have no guarantee on how much our insurance will actually go up.”
She said the current offer from the hospital, under the Hartford Healthcare umbrella, offers a high deductible plan including less out of their paychecks but more out-of-pocket. Howlett, who is a clinical assistant in the Center for Sleep Medicine, says wages are another area they still have yet to agree on.
“I think the most frustration is that they harp on these core values that they have, doing the right thing, doing the safe thing and we just don’t feel like that’s happening,” she said.
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The hospital is offering wage increases and market-based increases. Howlett says those market-based increases only impact 88 of the 250 members. The hospital is also offering health insurance premium contribution relief equaling an additional 2% of wages.
“A strike is not in anyone’s best interests, and will not help to resolve our negotiations. Windham Hospital has respectfully responded to every one of the issues the unions identified as most important to them,” Hospital President Donna Handley said in a statement. “We have advised the union that we remain willing to consider proposals that are within the economic parameters of our offer. They have not presented such a proposal.”
Handley writes they have offered a “fair, equitable, and market-competitive” contract. She says they are disappointed with the strike.
“The hospital compromised to find common ground throughout the negotiations, and made repeated moves to address the most important issues identified by the union, culminating in the comprehensive offer described above,” she wrote.
Nurses in Local 5041 at Windham Hospital went on strike in September also because of negotiations. Both unions have been in negotiations since December. Nurses in the union will picket at the two-day strike outside of work hours, as members of Local 5099 did during theirs. Local 5041 and the hospital have also not yet come to a new contract agreement.
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Howlett says the union members feel disrespected by Hartford Healthcare.
“That just proves how adamant we are about getting what we deserve,” Howlett said. “I think it’s a wake-up call for Hartford healthcare. I think they need to realize they need to treat their staff better.”
The strike will start at 7 am outside the hospital and last until Wednesday morning.
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