Majority of LMPA workers want union, organizers says

New London - A majority of the approximately 100 workers at Lawrence & Memorial Physician Association have signed cards stating they want to form a union, AFT Connecticut announced Monday.

The union organizing effort is taking place as the National Labor Relations Board considers an unfair labor practice charge in which the union argues that LMPA workers should be eligible to be members of the existing AFT unions at the main hospital. Eric Bailey, spokesman for AFT, said that even though the union believes it will prevail in the NLRB case, LMPA workers wanted to proceed with the union effort regardless of the outcome.

"The workers didn't want to wait," Bailey said.

With the majority of workers signing cards favoring a union, an election can be scheduled if the union is not successful in the case.

According to the AFT statement, L+M has "begun anti-union tactics" against the LMPA workers, including surveillance and changes in working conditions.

LMPA is a subsidiary of L+M comprised of physician office practices throughout southeastern Connecticut.

"We need to have a say in our workplace like the rest of the L&M Hospital workers," Erin Yuhas, a nurse in the LMPA Niantic office, said in the union statement.

Pamela Kane, vice president of physician practice management and executive director of L+M Physician Association/Associated Specialist of Southeastern Connecticut, said no "anti-union tactics" are being employed.

"We respect our employee's right to decide whether to unionize or not," she said in an email message. "We are providing information so they can make an informed choice. We believe that, once they know all of the facts, our employees will conclude that union representation would not benefit them."

Bailey said if the case is successful, LMPA workers would join one of the three existing unions at L+M, which represent nurses, technicians and health care workers. If it is not, a separate AFT local for the LMPA staff would be formed if the election favors the union.

"These workers have a right to join a union free of harassment," Lisa D'Abrosca, president of the L+M nurses' union said in the AFT statement. "Management's actions makes me question what they plan do with our upcoming contract negotiations. They don't seem to understand how strong our unions are."

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