260 technologists join forces with nurses for quality care
URGICAL AND RADIOLOGY technologists, licensed practical nurses and respiratory clinicians at Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital voted on Nov. 21 to join AFT Connecticut.
The caregivers cast their ballots several weeks after achieving majority status and seeking voluntary recognition of their union from the Western Connecticut Health Network. Its refusal to voluntarily recognize the union led to lengthy and costly delays, a federal labor board hearing in October 2014 and, ultimately, the secret ballot vote in November.
“My decision to vote ‘Union Yes’ was always about quality care for our patients and their families,” says Renee Stefanko, a certified surgical technologist with 13 years of experience at Danbury Hospital. “We needed a voice not just to advocate for ourselves but also for those who depend on us,” she says. “Now we can join forces with our nurses”to make sure our community can count on the vital care residents need.”
The vote has brought a new bargaining unit of approximately 260 technical professionals into AFT Connecticut, which represents the nonprofit network’s registered nurses at both acute care facilities. The labor federation also represents nurses, technicians and healthcare workers at seven additional hospitals in the state, including the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, and Lawrence + Memorial in New London.
“I voted ‘yes,’ because when hospital workers form unions it’s good for our patients,” says Patty Rose Farrell, a surgical technologist who has worked at Danbury Hospital for 17 years. “Having a union is about more than better wages and working conditions for us as workers. It’s also about having a seat at the table with management so we can collaborate to make improvements and improve the quality of care.”
“Our state elected officials were right when they pointed out that the loyalty of management and employees to each other reflects on a hospital’s reputation,” says Melodie Peters, an LPN, former state senator and president of AFT Connecticut. “We couldn’t agree more, and look forward to a more collaborative relationship.”
State lawmakers have urged the Western Connecticut Health Network’s chief executive officer and AFT Connecticut to abide by the election results. The legislators also pointed out that “wages, benefits and conditions are stronger among unionized employees” resulting in a workforce with higher “loyalty and productivity.”