There have been two days of good news coming out of our sister Locals in New London.
On Tuesday the RN and Home Health Aides at the Visiting Nurses of Southeastern CT (a subsidiary of L+M Hospital) came to a tentative agreement. The HHAs recently voted to unionize and join RN Local 5119.
This tentative agreement is covers both RNs and HHAs. For the 26 HHAs it is finally a chance to be covered by a union contract.
HHAs will get an increase in PTO, regular general wage increases, step increases based on years of experience, just cause protection, expanded workman's comp protection (so they will not lose their job is they are injured doing it), short term disability insurance, car insurance while on the job, company cellphones, decrease in insurance costs, and retirement plan.
These are huge victories to people who make as little as $15/hr taking care of our loved ones.
On Wednesday, the NLRB (the agency of the U.S. Government that regulates private sector workers), ruled in favor of the Union on the LMMG case.
The hospital had moved work out of the hospital to a Medical Office Building less than a mile away, and refused to let the workers follow the work, they fired and replaced them.
This is what led to the legal 4 day protest strike by Locals 5049 and 5051, followed by the 19 day lockout by the hospital last winter, which was deemed illegal and resulted in back pay to the workers of $1.2 million.
Not wanting to leave or forget the displaced LMMG employees, the union sought to assist them on obtaining a voice on the job. To do this we petitioned the NLRB to organize them by either adding them to the existing L&M unions or claiming them as a separate union/unit.
The NLRB decided to direct an election by recognizing their ability to organize as a separate unit/union.
The Hospital sought to expand the number of workers who could vote by pulling in all the workers from all their outpatient clinics. This is a tactic often used to dilute the pro-union vote (called expanding the unit), and makes organizing more difficult.
The NLRB must determine what the appropriate unit is.
Wednesday, the NLRB found in favor of the Union.
The workers at the MOB will now get to vote to determine for themselves if they should join the union.
This battle has gone on for over two years.
The L+M Locals have stood together as an excellent example of solitary, with each other, the political community, the Labor community, and the community of Southeast Connecticut.
These are amazing wins for the individual workers effected, but they are also wins for all of us.
When we stand in solidarity, we are strong.
When we stand in solidarity, we can put patients, students, and the public, before profits.
When we stand in solidarity, management sees that it just might be better to work with, rather than against, us.
This is what AFT president Randi Weigarten means by "solution driven management".....
and, being a little bit bad-ass.
To these brave women from the VNA we all say congratulations on a hard won and well deserved contract
And to these women at the Howard Street building who are on the organizing committee we say good luck and know that if you stick together you really can make your own workplace a better place to work and receive care. We are with you, we are one.