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L+M, union to resume talks Saturday

New London — Negotiating teams for Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and the union representing about 800 nurses and technicians will meet at 1 p.m. today, the first session since talks broke off Dec. 3.

The meeting was moved up from Monday at the request of federal mediator John Carpino, hospital spokesman Michael O'Farrell said Friday afternoon. The two sides are growing increasingly anxious to settle the dispute, which has been a financial drain on both the hospital as it pays replacement workers and other expenses, and the nurses and technicians, who have gone without paychecks and are awaiting unemployment compensation.

"The hospital looks forward to the opportunity for a productive session that results in an agreeable contract and the return of our employees," O'Farrell said in a statement released earlier Friday.

Matt O'Connor, spokesman for AFT Connecticut, said late Friday that he was pleased the session was rescheduled for today. The meeting will take place at the Best Western Olympic Inn in Groton, with the mediator serving as a conduit for information about proposals and counterproposals made during the session to nurses and technicians who plan to gather at the hotel.

The arrangement is an effort to resolve an impasse between the two parties about whether the workers could attend the session along with the negotiating teams.

"This will allow for nurses and techs not on the committee to gain firsthand information, have their questions answered and bear witness to this critically important process," O'Connor said.

Nurses and technicians have been locked out of the hospital since the conclusion of a four-day strike Nov. 30. The hospital said the lockout, in its 13th day, will continue until a new contract agreement is reached. Replacement nurses and technicians have been staffing the hospital since the strike began.

"It's good news for the patients and all the people of the region served by L+M Hospital that its administrators have agreed to come back to the table and resume talks," O'Connor said in a statement. "We believe a mutual resolution over our health service concerns is not only possible, but the best way to resolve the crisis of care impacting the community."

Day staff writer Izaskun E. Larrañeta contributed to this report.


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