Windham Hospital workers on strike

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Healthcare workers at Windham Hospital in Willimantic were on strike Monday over debate on contract negotiations.  

The hospital workers are speaking out about issues involving overtime, high health insurance rates for employees and fairer wages, an NBC article stated.  

The strike began Monday morning at 7 a.m. with more than 100 nurses, technical and service employees participating throughout the workday, an NBC article said.  

Three heads of various health care unions sent a letter to the Connecticut Department of Public Health stating that departments in the hospital are closed, providing less work to nurses that were on strike. The unions alleged nurses were being punished for being on strike, according to a Hartford Courant article

The letter highlighted an example of how nurses at the hospital were being given less work in what seemed to be a calculated way. 

“By keeping units closed and census low at Windham, it allows Hartford HealthCare to cancel nurses’ shifts after those nurses went on a two-day unfair labor practice strike,” the letter said. 

Yet at the same time, the letter detailed how nurses at other hospitals are being forced to work overtime. 

“Nurses at Backus are being forced to work mandatory overtime with unsafe staffing ratios as the census surges. This harms nurses and patients alike,” the letter explained. 

Heather Howlett, the president of Windham United, has expressed the need for change to better the conditions for Windham Hospital’s healthcare employees. 

“Hartford Healthcare needs to wake up, and see that we’re not asking for all that much and that they need to make some movement,” Howlett said in an NBC article

The Hartford Courant article explained that Windham Hospital healthcare workers are currently not unionized.  

In Sept. a two-day strike occurred after nurses worked without a contract for over six months, the Hartford Courant article said. This action was what inspired the strike on Monday, as workers do not feel that their conditions have improved. 

With little to no response or changes for healthcare workers, the letter was sent to the Connecticut Department of Public Health issuing an ultimatum to express the seriousness of their concerns.  

“We brought these concerns directly to management at Windham and Backus. We have received no reply from management, and nothing has been done,” the letter said. “We therefore feel compelled to report our concerns to the Department of Public Health and urge you to use every legal means at the Department’s disposal to protect patients and encourage Hartford HealthCare and Windham Hospital to reopen their units to the community.”  

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