Workers at 2 Connecticut hospitals vote against joining union; had cited pay, staffing issues

Associated Press

About 800 nursing assistants and other workers at two Connecticut hospitals voted Friday not to establish a union.

Workers at Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital had said inadequate staffing and better treatment were top concerns in the drive to unionize.

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AFT Connecticut led the organizing drive and wanted to negotiate for higher pay, which is now between $12 and $20 an hour.

Vote tallies were not available late Friday, but Matt O'Connor, spokesman for AFT Connecticut, said in an emailed statement that the vote was decided by a narrow margin.

AFT Connecticut has accused hospital managers of interference in the unionizing process. Managers are accused of offering pay increases to discourage union support, dismissing the importance of unions to dissuade employees from voting for AFT Connecticut and other unlawful statements, the National Labor Relations Board said.

The agency is investigating.

"Even before the vote, these healthcare workers had already built their union" by raising their voices, O'Connor said. "We remain committed to justice for these workers whose legal and protected rights were infringed."

The president of the two hospitals, Daniel J. DeBarba, said in an emailed statement that he was pleased with the vote.

"We are committed to continuing to build an environment of respect and open communication with employees, and this process has provided an opportunity to have a robust dialogue with our staff," he said. "Our employees are the heart and soul of our organization."