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Windham nurses hold strike outside Hartford Healthcare facility, negotiations continue

Striking Windham Hospital nurses on the picket line.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Striking Windham Hospital nurses on the picket line

Nurses at Windham Hospital in Connecticut held a two-day strike last week over what they claim are unfair labor practices by their employer, Hartford Healthcare.

The local labor union last sat down with hospital administrators a week ago Monday, before the strike occurred, but both sides were unable to reach an agreement on each other’s demands.

“Two hundred ninety-one days, 5 hours, 26 minutes, and 43 seconds, “said Andrea Riley, a nurse at Windham Hospital and the president of Windham Federation of Professional Nurses, AFT Local 504, to a crowd of 100 striking nurses on Friday.

Striking Windham Nureses and supporters.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Striking Windham nurses and supporters.

“That’s how long the nurses of Windham Hospital have been waiting for Hartford Healthcare to sit at the table, prepared to bargain in good faith,” she continued. “Prepared to respect the bargaining process. The very right of the laborer to secure a fair wage and ensure safe working conditions.”

Hartford Healthcare said in a statement that they are disappointed by the union’s decision to strike and have offered in previous discussions the elimination of mandatory overtime and health insurance premium relief.

They said the hospital has compromised to find common ground throughout the 10-month long negotiating process.

Flanked by nurses, state Representative Susan Johnson, D-Windham, called Hartford Healthcare “greedy.” She blamed the health system for already closing down its ICU at Windham, and is looking to make more cuts.

“They plan to shut down the maternity ward here. This is all part of their grand scheme,” she said.

Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz joins the striking Windham nurses on the picket line.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz joins the striking Windham nurses on the picket line

Johnson said the company can cut costs elsewhere — instead of boasting excessive executive salaries. “At the same time in 2015, when the former CEO of Hartford Healthcare was making $2.5 million. I never dreamed we’d get a CEO here that would be making $13.5 million a year. 13.5 million dollars a year! Really ridiculous amount of money.”

Hartford Healthcare could not be reached to verify the salaries of its executive staff.

According to its 2021 annual report, the organization has an operating revenue of $5 billion, and opened 25 new locations across the state — with more expected to come. However, the cost of these projects was not listed.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.