Strike begins at Connecticut hospital

Members of WCMH United Employees, AFT Local 5099, began a two-day strike Oct. 24 at Hartford HealthCare's Windham Hospital in Willimantic, Conn., according to WSHU, an NPR-affiliated radio station.

The union represents about 200 allied health, technical, environmental services, dietary, plant operations, registration and financial services professionals at the hospital, its partner medical facilities and satellite offices, according to an Oct. 24 news release shared with Becker's. Hartford HealthCare has about 36,000 employees total.

Union members voted to authorize a strike during a walkout by Windham Hospital nurses in September. Donna Handley, BSN, president of Windham Hospital, told Becker's in a statement that the organization "has been actively engaged in negotiations for renewal contracts with two AFT bargaining units representing our nurses, and our technical and support staff, since December 2021. We have offered a contract that is fair, equitable and market competitive." 

Ms. Handley also said the hospital remains willing to consider proposals from the union that are within the economic parameters of the hospital's offer. She added that the hospital has taken steps to ensure that patients continue to have access to needed care during the strike.

The union contends that during negotiations, hospital management has failed to resolve what they called "the region's patient care crisis."

This decision to strike "followed long months of negotiations and numerous inadequate proposals from Hartford HealthCare's lawyers. It's time for these industry leaders to value safe patient care by respecting those who keep their facilities running," Heather Howlett, a clinical assistant at Windham Hospital and president of WCMH United Employees, said in a union news release.

Ms. Howlett also told WSHU that union members want adequate pay and health insurance premium relief that considers changing costs over time.

The strike is slated to end on Oct. 26. 

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