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Hundreds Of Backus Hospital Nurses Strike In Norwich

NORWICH, CT — Hundreds of Backus Hospital nurses are striking due to a dispute over pay and protective equipment, according to The Hartford Courant. The hospital and the Backus Federation of Nurses have been in contract talks since June.

The strike is expected to last two days.

A statement from the Backus Federation of Nurses reads: “After months of calling the nurses of Backus Hospital ‘heroes,’ management has resisted bargaining a fair contract, and instead chosen to violate our rights under the National Labor Relations Act. We’ve filed Unfair Labor Practice charges calling out Backus managers and Hartford HealthCare (HHC) executives on their intimidation and threatening of nurses for union activity. We’re taking a stand for what we need in these negotiations to be able to work safely during the next wave of this pandemic.”

The nurses’ union is also asking for additional accommodations for breastfeeding.

The hospital said it has offered wage increases of 12.5 percent over the course of the three-year contract, as well as additional time off for most nurses and a 2 percent reduction in health insurance premiums, according to The Courant.

The hospital was recently in the news due to a coronavirus outbreak of nine cases, including cases where nurses tested positive. It is believed this outbreak is linked to an earlier outbreak at Three Rivers Healthcare, a nursing home also in Norwich.

This article originally appeared on the Norwich Patch

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Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich plan to strike Tuesday in protest over contract talks

Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich are set to strike Tuesday and Wednesday to protest what they say is the company’s refusal to negotiate a contract.

The hospital and Backus Federation of Nurses, part of AFT Connecticut that represents more than 400 nurses have been in contract talks since June. The two sides differ on compensation, improved distribution of personal protective equipment and recruiting and keeping new nurses, according to the union.

A spokeswoman for parent company Hartford HealthCare did not immediately respond to questions about staffing at Backus Hospital during the walkout. Donna Handley, president of the hospital, said earlier this month Backus will remain open during a strike and will work to reach an agreement.

Union President Sherri Dayton said recent negotiations led to progress on improved protective gear policies, expanded access for breastfeeding by new mothers and accountability for safe patient limits.

But the company has not yielded on calls by the union to improve recruitment and retention of nurses, the union said.

The union has organized a rally Tuesday at the hospital and will be joined by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and other labor leaders and elected officials.

Nurses at the not-for-profit hospital are seeking higher pay and more staff to relieve nurses who often work hours after the end of their shifts, the union said. They also say they are forced to reuse personal protective equipment kept in paper bags until it’s compromised or soiled and are demanding Hartford Healthcare keep a three-month supply of N95 masks.

Hartford HealthCare insists personal protective equipment is always available to patients and staff.

Stephen Singer can be reached at ssinger@courant.com.

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©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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