Eight days after unionized nurses and techs ended their strike at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, plans to negotiate are unraveling and nearly 800 workers remain locked out.
The next scheduled meeting was set to take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and while hospital negotiators hoped to talk behind closed doors, union representatives said the meeting should be open to the public.
In light of the disagreement, hospital officials said Monday night they will not attend.
Instead, the hospital will file an unfair labor practice against the union "for its failure to negotiate in good faith," Lawrence and Memorial spokesman Michael O'Farrell said in a statement Monday night.
"By taking this position, the union is showing it is more focused on theatrics and grandstanding than it is on negotiating," O'Farrell said. "Given the seriousness of this situation, we are deeply disappointed by this development."
Union representative Matt O'Connor said locked out workers are frustrated.
"We cannot agree to further disenfranchising our members and allowing the corporation's record of false claims and mischaracterizations of the issues being discussed to continue," O'Connor said.
The hospital denied workers’ request to return to work after the strike came to a close last Saturday night. Contract issues remain unsolved, as neither side has budged in negotiations.
Tomorrow's meeting, scheduled to take place at the Best Western Olympic Inn in Groton, would be the 16th discussion. Union representatives have said they still plan to show up, but hospital negotiatiors say that unless the union changes its position, they will not be in attendance.
In the meantime, locked out workers are filing for unemployment compensation, according to O'Connor.
The New London Day reports that about 300 striking workers have filed complaints with the State Dept. of Labor after their health insurance coverage was canceled Nov. 30, the first day of the lock out.
Hospital spokesman Mike O'Farrell told the New London Day those employees became eligible for COBRA coverage on Dec. 1, which allows them to maintain their coverage if they pay the full premium.
Striking workers are concerned the hospital is transferring work to non-union affiliates, thereby threatening their job security, but hospital officials say the union making unreasonable demands.
“Our position has been consistent and in keeping with contract negotiations over the past two decades for our local unions at the hospital; a transparent process requires that it be open to all the nurses and techs,” said union spokesman Matt O’Connor in a release on Thursday.
Michael O’Farrell said a Dec. 6 meeting involving the federal mediator, hospital lawyer and lead union negotiation will “solidify plans for the next session.”
Negotiations will resume Dec. 10, according to O’Connor.