NORWICH, CT — Four hundred Backus Hospital nurses are striking due to a dispute over pay and protective equipment, according to The Hartford Courant. The hospital and the Backus Federation of Nurses have been in contract talks since June.
The strike is expected to last two days.
A statement from the Backus Federation of Nurses reads: "After months of calling the nurses of Backus Hospital 'heroes,' management has resisted bargaining a fair contract, and instead chosen to violate our rights under the National Labor Relations Act. We’ve filed Unfair Labor Practice charges calling out Backus managers and Hartford HealthCare (HHC) executives on their intimidation and threatening of nurses for union activity. We’re taking a stand for what we need in these negotiations to be able to work safely during the next wave of this pandemic."
The nurses' union is also asking for additional accommodations for breastfeeding.
The hospital said it has offered wage increases of 12.5 percent over the course of the three-year contract, as well as additional time off for most nurses and a 2 percent reduction in health insurance premiums, according to The Courant.
The state Department of Public Health said in a statement that it is monitoring the situation. DPH said that it is responsible for ensuring that staff are adequately replaced along with random, daily inspection visits to check for quality standards in safety and patient care.
"We want to reassure families of Backus hospital patients who may be impacted that we will be vigilant and do what is necessary to make sure your loved ones are being properly cared for the duration of this labor action," DPH Commissioner Deidre Gifford said in a statement.
The hospital was recently in the news due to a coronavirus outbreak of nine cases, including cases where nurses tested positive. It is believed this outbreak is linked to an earlier outbreak at Three Rivers Healthcare, a nursing home also in Norwich.