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L+M hospital healthcare workers hold informational picket for higher pay

Healthcare workers picketed outside Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital in New London and seven other L+M facilities.
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Healthcare workers picketed outside Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital in New London and seven other L+M facilities.

Healthcare workers picketed outside L+M Hospital in New London and seven other L+M facilities on Wednesday in support of 900 of their fellow hospital workers.

Members of Local 5123 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut picketed due to a stalemate in contract negotiations. Workers have asked for higher wages and better benefits since their current employee contract expired last June. Healthcare workers said they have struggled to support themselves without a sufficient wage.

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Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU

“We’re a healthcare system. How could you not give affordable healthcare to your members?” said Local 5123 president Connie Fields during an interview. “And the CEO currently got an increase, now he’s making over $1.2 million, you got a raise, why shouldn’t we get a livable wage? Something that could make people feel like I don’t have to scramble paycheck to paycheck.”

In a statement, L+M Hospitals said similar increases and benefits were ratified in a 3-year contract last month by two other AFT unions at L+M, Local 4049, which represents about 640 nurses, and Local 5051, which represents some 250 medical technologists.

However, Fields said the difference is that medical staff make around $34 per hour and her members make just $15.50 per hour — making them the lowest paid workers in the healthcare system.

New London Mayor Michael Passero said he has attempted to set up a meeting between L+M and the healthcare workers to negotiate better wages for employees. While he understands the financial pressure on hospitals, Passero said he believes that no employee should be treated the way these healthcare workers have been.

“I’m disappointed that L+M has left this bargaining unit, their lowest paid workers, 900 of them, with the feeling that they’re disrespected, and they’re not valued,” said Passero. “And I don’t think any kind of major employer in the healthcare industry should be paying poverty wages to any class of their employees.”

The informational pickets are expected to stand outside L+M facilities until 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

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.