Two weeks into the lockout of 800 unionized nurses and technicians at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, the hospital has made a final offer in an effort to bring back its workers.
According to hospital spokesman Michael O’Farrell, “The Hospital’s last, best and final offer presents significant steps toward achieving job security” and is on the table to be ratified until Monday, Dec. 16.
All workers who accept the offer and return to work will receive a “ratification bonus” and the lockout will end if the union chooses to accept the offer, O’Farrell said.
O’Farrell said on acute care services will be transferred to other hospital-owned facilities for the duration of the contract, and that non-acute union members who may be laid off during future transfers will receive “significant support measures” from the hospital. Right now, there are no plans to transfer any services, he said.
The union’s primary issue has been with job security. Union members say they’re concerned about hospital plans to transfer work to non-union affiliates in order to save money.
“We have provided the union with an offer that protects a clear majority of our employees,” said hospital President and CEO Bruce D. Cummings, in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s important to know that the now expired contract contained no job security provisions at all – none. Given the economic climate and the changing dynamics of healthcare, providing 100 percent job security is not something we can do.”
Union representative Matt O'Connor said union leaders have not had a chance to thoroughly review the proposal but said that on the surface, it seems similar to the previous proposal that the union rejected. O'Connor said the ratification bonuses appear to be "nothing more than a bribe."
The union will issue an official statement later tonight.
Union and hospital representatives have met 15 times since the lockout began Nov. 30, following a four-day strike. A 16th meeting was scheduled to take place Tuesday and fell through when union members asked for an open-door discussion.
O’Farrell said that as a result, today the hospital “will file an unfair labor practice charge against the union for its failure to negotiate in good faith.”
Since the strike began, locked out workers have been filing for unemployment compensation and COBRA health insurance coverage, according to O’Connor.
Hospital officials said they imposed the lockout because the union had threatened intermittent strikes.