Governor supports picketing Backus nurses' right to negotiate

Norwich – Unionized nurses at The William W. Backus Hospital rallied alongside members of several other southeastern Connecticut unions on Monday afternoon to call attention to what they contend are protracted contract talks due to an obstructionist attitude by the hospital toward reaching an agreement.

About 100 Backus nurses and members of other local unions participated in the rally, which included brief remarks by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy supporting the nurses’ right to negotiate and reach a contract agreement in a timely manner. Negotiations began 10 months ago. The 450 registered nurses at Backus voted to join AFT Connecticut last spring.

“All you’re asking for is to be treated fairly, for negotiations to meet appropriate timelines, for a decent wage and decent benefits,” Malloy said.

The rally filled the sidewalks on Lafayette Street next to the hospital with nurses and others chanting and cheering speakers as they carried signs with slogans such as, “Patient Care Not Union Busting,” “Contract Now” and “Be Fair to Those Who Care.”

Shawn Mawhiney, spokesman for Backus, said the hospital is bargaining in good faith toward a fair and equal contract.

“The hospital and the governor are in absolute agreement,” he said. “This is our first-ever contract with this union, and it takes hard work at the bargaining table. You can’t rally your way to a contract.”

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