Lawrence + Memorial To Lift Lockout Thursday

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NEW LONDON — The lockout that has barred hundreds of striking employees from going to work at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital will be lifted Thursday at 6:45 a.m.

The 790 nurses and health care technicians who have been locked out since the evening of Nov. 30 will be able to return to work Thursday.

“We want our staff back doing what they do best and for which they are so needed: caring for patients and serving the community,” Bruce D. Cummings, the hospital’s president and CEO, said in a statement Tuesday night.

The hospital had proposed a new contract with the union after long negotiation sessions on Saturday evening, but it was rejected on Sunday, according to Cummings.

The union members voted to authorize a strike on Nov. 18.

The nurses and technicians had planned to return to the job four days after starting the strike on Nov. 27, but were locked out by the hospital. The hospital has since been running with temporary employees.

Issues the union had with hospital management focused on job security, not on raises or health benefits. The hospital has been moving functions to outpatient facilities, where nurses and technicians aren’t in the union.

“It has been difficult to see our valued co-workers on the street or otherwise away from their jobs since” the strike began, Cummings said in the statement.

He said the hospital will continue to follow the previous contract and hopes the union will ratify the most recent offer from the hospital.

The union, in a statement made Tuesday, said the locked-out employees will return to work on Thursday.

“The unilateral decision by hospital administrators is a public acknowledgment of what the community has been saying throughout this ordeal; that their acute care facility cannot fulfill its mission of ‘caring for the whole region’ without its whole skilled, professional workforce,” the union said in a statement.

“We certainly hope they will come back to work,” said hospital spokesman Michael O’Farrell.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said: “The decision by L+M to end the lockout is a very encouraging action that means there is positive movement by both sides to end the impasse. The negotiators have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and endurance in the last week, and I remain hopeful that their efforts will bear fruit with a comprehensive final agreement.”

By Nick Rondinone, Hartford Courant.

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