Lawrence + Memorial Medical Group faces trial over unfair labor practices

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NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint and scheduled a trial against Lawrence + Memorial Medical Group for unfair labor practices.

The charges against Lawrence + Memorial Medical Group (L+MMG) include interference, coercion, and threats made by corporation administrators to block employees from joining unions last fall.

“This should be a wake-up call for the leadership of our community’s health network,” said L+M registered nurse (RN) and AFT Local 5049 President Lisa D’Abrosca in a press release. “They should be ashamed that managers at an outpatient facility with the L+M name broke the law. They should reign in these law breakers before they destroy what’s left of our hospital’s reputation.”

“We warned the board last fall that administration was again wasting patient-care dollars,” said L+M sleep lab technician and president of AFT Local 5051 Stephanie Johnson in a press release. “Now they know that managers’ tactics against the caregivers at L+MMG weren’t just costly; they were illegal.”

AFT Connecticut says a full page newspaper ad placed in November exposed the more than $100,000 that had been spent in order to subvert Lawrence + Memorial Medical Group (L+MMG) employees’ legal rights to unite for a voice in decisions impacting patient care.

The union says this isn’t the first time Lawrence + Memorial Corporation has been accused of using unfair labor practices. They say in August 2013, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the corporation for its use of “alter ego” tactics that displaced the hospital’s professional staff as services were shifted to L+MMG outpatient facilities. That complaint ended in a settlement between union leaders and corporation administration, according to the union. Terms of that agreement included adoption by both parties of “core principles” designed to create an atmosphere of “mutual respect” for employees of any LMC entity seeking to organize, AFT Connecticut says. They say the December complaint cites conduct by L+MMG managers in clear violation of the agreement, including threats of “unspecified reprisals” as well as “interfering with, restraining, and coercing” employees.

Proceedings regarding the new complaint are scheduled to begin March 10 at the National Labor Relations Board’s Hartford office. An administrative law judge will hear of the charges against the corporation.

Lawrence + Memorial Medical Group spokesman Michael O’Farrell issued the following statement on behalf of L+M management:

“We are disappointed that the NLRB and the AFT union have decided to proceed forward with this matter. In early November, the Lawrence + Memorial Medical Group (L+MMG) staff working in the Medical Office Building voted 41-18 against union representation, a result that was not objected to or challenged by the Union.

Given this, we had hoped AFT would respect the very strong vote of the staff to reject union representation and put this behind for everyone – particularly for our patients. L+MMG is also disappointed by the inflammatory language and inaccurate information regarding this matter. Proceeding forward to a formal hearing is not a finding or decision against L+MMG — it is only that the NLRB believes the matter needs to be presented to an Administrative Law Judge.

L+MMG is confident that all of its actions have been lawful.”

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