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Union leads second strike in two months outside of Windham Hospital

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AFT Connecticut
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Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz joined a union representing over 200 technical healthcare workers outside of Windham Hospital in a two-day strike that began Tuesday against their employer Hartford Healthcare.

Technical healthcare workers at Windham Hospital in Connecticut have joined nursing staff in a two-day strike Tuesday against their employer Hartford Healthcare.

The over 200 workers are members of the union AFT Local 5099. Heather Howlett, a clinical assistant and the representative of the union for non-nurse employees, said they are protesting unfair working conditions and inadequate pay.

She said although they were offered wage increases, they’re not for everyone.

“So, their offer, what they’re calling market increases, pertains to 88 of my around 265 members,” Howlett said. “The rest of the 265 are looking at a 2-2.5% increase, of which they also just announced that they’re giving everybody else in Harford Healthcare a 3% increase.”

In a statement, Hartford Healthcare said they have offered a contract that is fair and equitable, and remain willing to consider further proposals if the unions present them. The health system said they were disappointed the unions have walked out on Windham Hospital’s patients.

Howlett said despite Hartford Healthcare offering health insurance premium relief, it doesn’t take into account how costs change over time.

“With them wanting a four-year contract that means that in three years from now who knows how much that premium would be,” Howlett said.

“For example, the contract that just expired in the 2021 benefits, which is what we’re still paying those rates currently,” she said. “They reduced our percentage by 3%, and we still paid more because the actual premium went up 6%.”

Nursing staff at Windham Hospital have been negotiating with Hartford Healthcare since December 2021 over new contracts. The nurses union went on a two-day strike last month over similar contract issues.

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.