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Nurses at a Westport, Conn., psychiatric facility threaten to strike, and Senators offer support

Connecticut state Senators Will Haskell and Bob Duff
Ebong Udoma
WSHU Public Radio
Connecticut state Senators Will Haskell, left, and Bob Duff

Unionized hospital workers in Westport, Connecticut, have announced their intention to strike. The nurses and support staff at St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health are concerned about unfair labor practices. The facility is owned by Hartford Healthcare.

The 90 nurses and hospital staff at the acute psychiatric inpatient facility are members of the Connecticut Health Care Associates District 1199. They said they are mandated to work double shifts with little notice and failure to comply can result in discipline or termination.

State senate Majority Leader Bob Duff of Norwalk and Senator Will Haskell of Westport said that’s unfair.

The nurses cannot be expected to provide excellent care for patients under such burdensome working conditions, said Haskell.

”What we need in this state are more nurses and more healthcare workers, and I’m going to continue to work in the Legislature to promote workforce development so that hospitals in the state are not stretched thin in the way that this facility clearly has been,” Haskell said.

The nurses have scheduled a strike to begin Friday, December 17.

Hartford Healthcare has responded. It has already agreed to several operational changes proposed by the union, it said. And it looks forward to further good faith negotiations. Regardless of a strike, the facility will remain open and accessible to the community, Hartford Healthcare said.

Hartford Healthcare is a WSHU underwriter.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.