Unions and management at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital are scheduled to meet at the negotiating table again this week, as nurses and technicians remain locked out of their jobs at the New London facility.
There's been a picket line outside L&M since the day before Thanksgiving, and according to workers, they've been getting plenty of community support. Stephanie Johnson, president of the LPN tech union, said, "I'm overwhelmed by the support we've had from the community. During the rain, they were coming out; they were bringing us food, telling us their stories about how we touched them when they were in the hospital, and just showing us how much they're here for us. We are the hospital, and they know that."
Two unions representing 800 nurses and technicians declared a strike when the two sides couldn't reach a compromise over job security measures. They offered to return to their jobs Saturday evening, but hospital management locked them out.
President of the nurses union, Lisa D'Abrosca, said she's disappointed by that response. "I think it just goes to illustrate the irresponsibility of the corporation running this community hospital," she said. "We had the workforce in its entirety last night, and we wanted to go back to work. I can't believe how childish it was that they wouldn't even come out and accept the unconditional offer to return to work."
For its part, L&M called the lockout a serious but necessary step, because of the unions' threat to continue to conduct intermittent strikes. The hospital said patient care has not been compromised, and elective surgeries have now resumed. The two sides are due to meet again for talks tomorrow, and in the meantime the union has appealed the lockout to the National Labor Relations Board.