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Windham Community Memorial Hospital nurses to hold 2-day strike

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Windham Community Memorial Hospital is bracing itself for a nurse strike that is set to begin Thursday morning as the hospital and the nurses’ union continue a negotiation battle that began last year.

Hospital nurses, technical professions and skilled service employees plan to spend two days picketing outside of the facility. It plans to hold a rally Friday morning with labor leaders and elected officials to “address the failure of Hartford HealthCare’s executives to resolve the dispute and settle protracted contract negotiations,” according to a press release from the Hartford HealthCare Organization of Professional Employees.

The Windham Community Memorial Hospital negotiating team met with bargaining units on Monday, and discussions continued through Wednesday, according to a written statement to News 8 from Hartford HealthCare, which owns the hospital.

“The hospital is disappointed that we have not yet been able to move closer to an agreement on both contracts during the meetings,” the statement reads. “The hospital has made it clear that it is willing to consider options that will work within the economics of a proposal we have been discussing since the end of June. On Monday, the union asked the hospital to provide more information about the financial components of our earlier offer, which we did. yet, the union’s proposals continue to fall outside the economics of the hospital’s offer.”

The groups have been negotiating since December, according to the statement, with 46 official negotiating sessions being held. The hospital said that its “movement on significant items was not matched by the union.”

Claims made Wednesday night that the hospital should “meet in the middle,” the hospital said, “ignores the history of the negotiations and the hospital’s numerous concessions on the issues deemed important by the union,” according to the statement.

The hospital said that it has responded to the union’s list of most-important items, and that the counteroffer includes eliminating mandatory overtime, making market-based adjustments and larger wage increases to help recruit and retain newer nurses, expand salary ranges for more experienced nurses, increase wages for technical and support staff, and add an additional 2% of wages to provide health insurance premium contribution relief.

“The hospital remains willing to consider a counterproposal that works within the economics of our offer,” the statement reads. “We have encouraged the union to make such an offer and we have said we are ready to meet and discuss it.”

With the strike on the horizon, the hospital system said it is “taking all appropriate steps to ensure that our patients will continue to have access to the safe, quality care they need and deserve.”

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