Hartford HealthCare nurses give strike notice

Amid contract negotiations, nurses at Hartford HealthCare's Windham Hospital in Willimantic, Conn., have notified hospital leaders of their intent to strike.

The Sept. 10 notice from the Windham Federation of Nurses Local 5041 states that union members may begin a two-day strike at the hospital Sept. 22.

The union represents about 100 registered nurses at Windham Hospital, as well as technical and support staff. Donna Handley, president of Windham Hospital, said in a statement shared with Becker's that the hospital has been actively engaged in negotiations for renewal contracts on behalf of union members since December 2021. She said the hospital's negotiating team "has met for 42 official negotiation sessions. We have made continuous efforts and concessions to find common ground, and we sought the engagement of a federal mediator early in negotiations to help facilitate an agreement." 

Ms. Handley also pointed to the hospital's last and most comprehensive offer, which includes elimination of mandatory overtime; market-based adjustments and larger wage increases for newer nurses; expanded salary ranges for more senior nurses; wage increases and market-based increases for technical and support staff; and health insurance premium contribution relief for both bargaining units.

The union contends the hospital has engaged in unfair labor practices such as refusing to present fair proposals.

"During these long months of negotiations, we have made it clear that patient safety is our top priority," Windham Federation of Professional Nurses President Andrea Riley, RN, said in a Sept. 12 news release. "Not only have the network's lawyer's refused to present fair proposals, [but] management has broken federal workplace laws in the middle of a care crisis. That's not how health industry leaders who value safe patient care should behave."

Strike captain Karla Beckert, RN, added: "Our community should expect better from Hartford HealthCare's executives and lawyers. Provoking nurses to strike shows us their lack of respect both for their patients and their employees. We're hopeful a settlement can be reached but we are prepared to walk off the job if that's what it takes."

A strike could be averted if both sides reach an agreement.

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