November 15, 2018

Rockville Gen. Hospital staff vote to unionize

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
The Eastern Connecticut Health Network has facilities in Manchester and Vernon.

By a majority vote Wednesday, support staff at Vernon's Rockville General Hospital agreed to unionize in an election moderated by the National Labor Relations Board.

A total of 150 nursing assistants, housekeepers, diet aides, phlebotomists, unit coordinators and other employees of the Prospect-owned Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN) will be represented by labor union AFT Connecticut, labor officials said.

The union representation allows the support staff to begin their first-ever negotiations with ECHN management. AFT has represented Rockville General Hospital's nurses since 2010, and represents other healthcare professionals at ECHN-managed Manchester Memorial Hospital.

Rockville General Hospital staff will begin assembling a negotiations team to represent the workers in contract talks with ECHN management, AFT said.

In fiscal 2017, Rockville General Hospital recorded a $5.8 million operating loss, and an overall loss of $8.2 million, according to a financial report filed with the state Office of Health Strategy.

ECHN's Manchester Memorial Hospital recorded a $4.2 million operating surplus in fiscal 2017, but an overall loss of $4.4 million. Parent Prospect Medical Holdings posted a $7.9 million operating loss, but a $15.4 million overall surplus.

Wednesday's union vote was the first since Prospect Medical Holdings Inc. acquired ECHN in 2016, turning the provider into a for-profit healthcare system.

In a statement Thursday, the hospital said they respect its workers' decision to unionize and "will negotiate in good faith with AFT to reach an agreement through collective bargaining."

AFT bills itself as the largest union of acute-care hospital workers in Connecticut, representing about 550 workers at Prospect's facilities in Manchester and Vernon.

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