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NH Exec Council Candidate Robert Burns Explains Why He Supports Right To Work

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A friend of the NH Labor News just sent me this video of Robert Burns, a candidate for the New Hampshire Executive Council in District 4, talking at the Loudon Candidates Forum about Right To Work legislation.

Click here to see above video on YouTube

Burns claims that Right To Work legislation is about “personal freedom.” It is about “Thugs trying to control you and take your money.” Burns goes on to say that Right To Work is “100% about your freedom not to give this money to a political organization you may not agree with.”

“That is why I am for Right To Work,” concluded Burns

Let me explain to you, Mr. Burns, what Right to Work really is really about.

Right to Work is not about personal freedom, it is about breaking unions.  Your claim that my union dues go to political campaigns is absolutely false.  It is completely illegal for any union to take dues money and give it to a political candidate.  You are confusing union dues, with union campaign PAC or COPE funds.  These PACs are funded by freely given small donations of individual members who want to make sure that candidates who support their way of life are elected.

Right To Work is an attack on the middle class and leads to lower wages. The average worker in a Right To Work state make $5,000 a year less.

Right To Work laws are just another way for wealthy CEOs to push workers down in the race to the bottom. They want to break the unions to force workers to pay more for things like healthcare and retirement benefits.  They are lining the pockets and giving stockholders bonuses with our hard earned money.

By supporting Right To Work legislation you are saying that you, Mr. Burns, would rather side with greedy CEOs over hard working Americans.

Right To Work is wrong for worker, wrong for the middle class and wrong for New Hampshire. 

Massachusetts and New Hampshire AFLCIO Presidents Speak Out Against Outsourcers Scott Brown And Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

As Outsourcing Champion Mitt Romney Campaigns With Scott Brown, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Labor Leaders Speak Out on Brown’s Outsourcing Record

Manchester, NH – Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman and New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark Mackenzie spoke out against Scott Brown’s outsourcing record today as he campaigned alongside outsourcing champion Mitt Romney. Like Romney, Scott Brown has a record of profiting off companies that ship American jobs overseas. In the Senate, Brown voted to protect tax breaks for companies that shipped jobs overseas.

“New Hampshire shouldn’t make the same mistake Massachusetts made, because Scott Brown’s record when he went to Washington proves that he’s not for working families. He’s a guy that works to protect his corporate special interest backers, at the cost of the middle class,” said Steven Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “Now we know that since losing in Massachusetts, Brown has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of a company that made outsourcing part of its business plan. That company, Kadant Inc., even outsourced jobs in Massachusetts, the same state he once served. Scott Brown was wrong for Massachusetts and he’s wrong for New Hampshire.”

“Outsourcing is the type of business practice that lines the pockets of people like Scott Brown and Mitt Romney, but is devastating for communities in a state like New Hampshire,” said Mark Mackenzie, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “When jobs are shipped overseas, families suffer, unemployment rates increase, and entire communities are decimated. The fact that Scott Brown personally profited from this practice is shameful. We can’t trust him and most definitely can’t afford to send his agenda back to the Senate.”

As a Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown voted to protect special tax breaks for companies that offshore American jobs. After leaving the Senate, he made more than a quarter million dollars by serving on the Board of Directors of Kadant, Inc., a company that outsourced American jobs to increase its bottom line. Just two days before he announced his most recent campaign in New Hampshire, Brown signed legal documents endorsing the company’s business strategy, which included establishing cheaper manufacturing facilities in China and Mexico.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party is releasing a new web ad ahead of Scott Brown’s campaign stop with fellow Massachusetts politician and notorious outsourcer, Mitt Romney. During Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, it was revealed that Mitt Romney invested millions of dollars in a company that profited off of U.S. Outsourcing. Similarly, Scott Brown has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars off an outsourcing company, even endorsing their business strategy, which included sending jobs to China and Mexico.

To view the web ad on YouTube, click here:

“Scott Brown and Mitt Romney both cashed in off of outsourcing jobs–and that’s just further proof that both are wrong for our economy and wrong for New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Julie McClain.

 

 

Do You Frequent A Place That Is Rife With Sexual Harassment? The Answer Will Surprise You

By c. kennedy garrett (Flickr) CC-BY-2.0

 

Do you support an industry that objectifies women, opening them up to unwanted sexual advances and harassment?   The obvious answer is no, but according to a new report from Restaurant Employment Opportunity Centers United (ROC United) you would be wrong.

The restaurant industry is rife with sexual harassment and actively promotes the objectification of women. Some are obvious, like Hooters, where women are hired not because they are good servers, but how they look in jogging shorts and low cut t-shirts. This type of objectification does not only happen at Hooters. Women in restaurants across the country are told to “dress sexier” to make more tips. Research from ROC shows that women who work at the tipped minimum wage are three times more likely to be told by their manager to dress ‘sexier’ than those who work in states where all workers are paid the full minimum wage.

Unfortunately many states have a tipped minimum wage that allows employers to pay workers as low as $2.13 per hour. Most of their paycheck goes directly to paying taxes and that means workers must rely solely on tips to survive. This disproportionately effects women who make up over 66% of tipped restaurant workers. Of the women who work for tips over 20% are living below the poverty line, forcing them to do anything to preserve their tips.

“Women restaurant workers living off tips in states where the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment as women in states that pay the same minimum wage to all workers,” stated ROC United.

Sexual harassment has the potential to happen in every job, however sexual harassment is significantly higher in the restaurant industry. “While seven percent of American women work in the restaurant industry, more than a third (an eye-opening 37%) of all sexual harassment claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) come from the restaurant industry,” listed ROC United.

“The highly sexualized environment in which restaurant workers labor impacts every major workplace relationship, with restaurant workers reporting high levels of harassing behaviors from restaurant management (66%), co-workers (80%), and customers (78%).” ROC also found that over 60% of all women working on the tipped minimum wage reported being sexually harassed.

Being completely dependent on tips opens the doors to harassment from employers. A whopping two-thirds (66%) of women who reported being sexually harassed said their manager, on a monthly basis, sexually harassed them. If a worker speaks out against an unwanted advancement from their boss, they could end up being scheduled to work shifts where tips are lower in retaliation further discouraging workers from speaking out.

Sexual harassment in the restaurant does not only happen in the back of the house. Workers are afraid to speak out against unwanted advances in fear of losing any tips. As one New York server explained, “There is a lot of sexual harassment [but] you just kind of brush it off…I just want my tip, I don’t want anything to mess up my tip.” ROC United’s research shows that one-third (33%) of women working in the restaurant industry reported being sexually harassed by customers on a weekly basis.

“Depending on customers’ tips for wages discourages workers who might otherwise stand up for their rights and report unwanted sexual behaviors,” wrote ROC.

Do we want our daughters to learn that accepting this type of sexual harassment is part of working in the restaurant industry?

Do we want to teach our daughters that they should sell their bodies to get better tips?

ROC United offers one solution to this problem. Eliminating the tipped minimum wage and raising the minimum wage to a level where workers are less dependent on the tips they receive.

“In order to reduce the pressures that increase sexual harassment, we must eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers while implementing and strengthening policies to educate workers on their rights and reduce rates of sexual harassment. Legislating one fair wage, so all workers are ensured a minimum wage sufficient to cover their basic needs, and eliminating a sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, can give all workers greater personal agency, creating a safer and more equitable workplace.”

Put The Middle Class First Bus Tour

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The bus tour stops in Manchester at 10:00am, at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Manchester speakers will include NH Alliance for Retired Americans President Lucy Edwards and Pastor Gail Kinney.

The Nashua stop will be at 1:00pm outside the Nashua Public Library.

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The political narrative around bread and butter economic issues that won the day for progressives and Democrats in 2012 is no less important today.  And, at a time when Republicans are doubling down on policies that hurt the middle class while benefiting the likes of the Koch brothers and the richest one percent, having a vehicle (pun intended) to advance the “who’s on your side” narrative that has worked so well for our side in the past is absolutely critical to our success.

Americans United has a rich and successful history of using bus tours for progressive campaigns that have generated significant benefits with respect to earned media and grassroots and grass-tops organizing.  Americans United’s most famous bus tour occurred in 2008 around the Presidency of George W. Bush and the failure of his and the GOP’s domestic and foreign policies during his tenure.  The Bush Legacy Bus was on the road for nearly five months, visiting 42 states and generating thousands of media hits with an estimated value of $2.5 million paid television airtime alone.  The tour contributed to the effort of Democrats to win the presidency, in part, by making a strong argument against putting another Republican in the White House for essentially a third Bush term.

More recently, Americans United ran a month-long national “Raise the Wage” bus tour advocating for raising the federal minimum wage, which appeared in key states ahead of a vote on the issue in the U.S. Senate.  The “Raise the Wage” bus tour held 35 events in 22 states resulting in 265 television clips valued at $301,846 in equivalent paid media time and 170 pages in newspaper clips.

Proposed “Put the Middle Class First” Bus Tour:  In contrast with the Right, Democrats have a detailed set of proposals that put the middle class first, giving more Americans a fair shot at getting into the middle class and achieving the American Dream.  Any one of these provides significant material for a bus tour, as Americans United proved with this spring’s “Raise the Wage” bus tour.  However, because these commonsense, popular policies can be combined together to draw a stark picture of what we are for and what the other side is against – and because the resonance of some of these issues varies some from state to state and even district to district – we are launching a bus tour to promote ways to “Put the Middle Class First” that will provide a platform to promote a range of progressive economic policies that are popular with the American people.

The issues we will highlight are those that would give Americans a fair shot, including:

·         Raising the minimum wage

·         Equal pay for equal work

·         Making college affordable

·         Creating jobs by investing in infrastructure

·         Protecting Social Security and Medicare

The bus’s art and rhetoric will make it adaptable as a platform to discuss any or all of these policies and to target, and hold accountable, lawmakers who are on the wrong side of these issues.  With “Put the Middle Class First” as the topline, the bus will serve as a platform for other issues in states, districts or communities where they make sense.

Duration, States: The Middle Class First bus tour will start Monday, October 6th and run until the weekend before the election.

Stops will include:

Monday, October 6

Manchester, NH

Nashua, NH

Tuesday, October 7

Portland, ME

Bangor, ME

Wednesday, October 8

Hartford, CT

Syracuse, NY

Thursday, October 9

Philadelphia, PA

Harrisburg, PA

Pittsburg, PA

Friday, October 10

Columbus, OH

Lansing/East Lansing, MI

Monday, October 13

Detroit (Southfield), MI

Chicago, IL

Tuesday, October 14

Milwaukee, WI

Madison, WI

Wednesday, October 15

Davenport, IA

Des Moines, IA

Red Oak, IA

Thursday, October 16

Omaha, NE

Friday, October 17

Denver, CO

Ft. Collins, CO

Monday, October 20

Dallas, TX

Texarkana, AR

Tuesday, October 21

Little Rock, AR

West Memphis, AR

Thursday, October 23

Tampa, FL

Orlando, FL

Friday, October 24

Tallahassee, FL

Atlanta, GA

Monday, October 27

Lexington, KY

Louisville, KY

Tuesday, October 28

Charleston, WV

Wednesday, October 29

Charlotte, NC

Greensboro, NC

Raleigh, NC

Thursday, October 30

Norfolk/Hampton Roads, VA

Richmond, VA

Friday, October 31

McLean, VA

“America Out Of Whack” By Arnie Alpert of InZane Times

American Flag (Sam Howzit FLIKR)

Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Edsall assembles an impressive array of facts that illuminate the realities of wealth inequality in America.  

Citing Federal Reserve figures, Edsall reports that household net worth, corporate profits, and the value of real estate have been going up at an impressive pace.  If you think that sounds like evidence of recovery you’d be mistaken, at least if you equate “recovery” with economic conditions that are improving for most workers.   

“The September Federal Reserve Bulletin graphically demonstrates how wealth gains since 1989 have gone to the top 3 percent of the income distribution,” he writes.  “The next 7 percent has stayed even, while the bottom 90 percent has experienced a steady decline in its share.”

It’s not just wealthy individuals getting wealthier; it’s also the corporations they own and run.    Citing statistics from Goldman Sachs, Edsall says corporate profits rose five times faster than wages last year.  And he quotes an article from Business Insider that stated,

“America’s companies and company owners — the small group of Americans who own and control America’s corporations — are hogging a record percentage of the country’s wealth for themselves.”

Edsall asks, “Why don’t we have redistributive mechanisms in place to deploy the trillions of dollars in new wealth our economy has created to shore up the standard of living of low- and moderate-income workers, to restore financial stability to Medicare and Social Security, to improve educational resources and to institute broader and more reliable forms of social insurance?”

It’s the right question. 

For answers he turns to a bunch of economists, who provide data about tax rates, labor force participation, the declining growth of well-paying jobs, globalization, and the reduction of labor’s share of profit relative to capital in a time of rising productivity.  

My answer is a bit more straightforward:  America’s companies and company owners — the small group of Americans who own and control America’s corporations — are hogging the political system.  This is nothing new, but in the legal environment created by recent Supreme Court decisions (Citizens United and McCutcheon in particular) it is becoming easier for corporate interests to wage class war and win.  Simply put, the people who make the laws and set the policies have their receptors tuned to the frequency where the corporations are broadcasting. 

Edsall notes survey data that reveal corporations are not so popular in the USA and other so-called “advanced countries.”   He asks if the legitimacy of free market capitalism in America is facing fundamental challenges.

My gut response is to say “I hope so.”  But the dynamics described by all those economists are not the workings of “the invisible hand.”  The market is operating under a set of rules established by those who already have more than their fair share of power, wealth, and privilege.  The legitimacy of our corporate-directed political system that must be challenged as well.

#GUI

Senator Bernie Sanders Speaks AT Strafford County Dem’s Fundraiser

Bernie Sanders (Arnie Alpert)

                  BernieSander2 The Strafford County Democratic Committee proudly announces

 Senator Bernie Sanders

Special guest for our Fall Celebration
September 27~5-7 PM

 American Legion Hall,
Foundry Street,
Rollinsford, NH.

Hearty hors d’oeuvres~cash bar,
and a chance to meet and talk with our Democratic candidates

$50. is the special price for State Rep candidates and the rest of the sponsorships are $100. The tickets are $25.

All of the money we raise will go to Strafford County Democratic candidate services and Voter’s Voice.

Live music is by Chaz Proulx. Senator Sanders will be available for questions and photos.

The title of Senator Sander’s talk is  “The Fight for Economic Justice.”

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/straffordcounty2014dinner

http://www.straffordcountydemocrats.org/events-2/fall-celebration-with-senator-bernie-sanders/

Here is an address in case you want to send a check.

STRAFFORD COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE
PO Box 247
Dover, NH 03820

Email: SCDC@StraffordCountyDemocrats.org

Web: http://www.straffordcountydemocrats.org

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster Speaks Out in Support of FairPoint Workers

Ann kuster head shot LG

Ann kuster head shot LGUnion Leaders Welcome State and Federal Legislators’ Interventions

Manchester, NH–On September 19th, Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District issued a statement urging FairPoint and the unions representing nearly 2,000 FairPoint employees in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont to return to the bargaining table.

Congresswoman Kuster said that she has been in contact with FairPoint workers and management over several months. According to her statement, “we can all agree that workers, employers, and our entire economy benefit from continued, productive dialogue between management and labor. I am therefore disappointed that negotiations have been suspended, and I urge all parties to come together to negotiate a new contract in good faith.”

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing the company of bargaining in bad faith and illegally imposing terms and conditions on employees when the parties were not at impasse. The NLRB is currently investigating those charges and should decide within weeks whether or not to file a formal complaint against the company.

Several state senators have come out in support of FairPoint workers in recent weeks. In a September 22nd statement, Senator David Watters of District 4 expressed disappointment that FairPoint has walked away from bargaining. He said, “FairPoint has faced serious challenges in the past few years, but the ideal of corporate citizenship and a willingness to bargain with its employees must continue to guide its commitment to New Hampshire. Negotiations, flexibility, and respect for both sides in labor contracts are the New Hampshire way.”

Senator David Pierce of District 5 said, “There are many New Hampshire businesses that have shown that a company can prosper when it treats its workers as its best asset. FairPoint knows this. FairPoint should therefore strive to put its workers and the state of New Hampshire ahead of the big Wall Street hedge funds that own the company.”

In a statement earlier this month, Senator Lou D’Allesandro of District 20 said, “The people of New Hampshire need the best trained employees to maintain our vital telecommunications infrastructure, and that means union workers, not outside, temporary contractors.” Senator Jeff Woodburn of Coos County said, “The North Country and I are proud to stand with New Hampshire’s telephone workers at IBEW Local 2320. Their work is especially important to our region, [which] remains under-served by telecom infrastructure. It’s a shame that FairPoint has walked away from the negotiating table, putting New Hampshire’s network at risk. I call on FairPoint management to come back to the table and work to find a meaningful compromise.”

Union leaders welcomed the public statements of support. “We are really gratified that our elected leaders in Washington and Concord have added their voices to those of FairPoint employees and customers,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320. “It just demonstrates the importance of this fight for fairness to the citizens of our state who depend on the highly skilled employees of FairPoint to build, maintain, and service our vital telecommunications infrastructure.”

“These elected leaders clearly appreciate the role that our members play in providing a twenty-first century telecommunications system,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “FairPoint has not bargained fairly and has now imposed terms that allow the company to outsource our jobs to less skilled, out-of-state and foreign contractors. It’s bad for our communities, and we will continue to communicate our concerns with elected leaders around our state and in Washington.”

IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester is part of IBEW System Council T9, which includes local unions in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. CWA Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states.

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence: Stopping Workplace And Domestic Violence

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Editor’s Note: This is a special guest post Sara Persechino, Development Coordinator for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence who wants to talk about Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence can effect workers in many ways and can even result in further violence in our workplaces.  Please take a moment to read what Sara is saying and help spread the word that the victims of Domestic Violence need our help.  We in the labor movement have always used the term, “giving you a voice in the workplace,” when we are trying to organize workers.  Victims of Domestic Violence need us to be the voice to this issue that effects almost 25% of all women.

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Two-thirds of Americans believe domestic violence is a serious problem, yet just more than 1 in 3 have ever talked about it. In the wake of Ray Rice’s suspension from the National Football League, our nation is engaged in the largest conversation about domestic violence in this country since O.J. Simpson. This is our chance to get it right—to have a substantive conversation about how to prevent future violence by educating our young people, fully supporting crisis enter services for victims of domestic violence, and making sure we all know the warning signs of abuse and how we can help.

If we’re going to end domestic violence, we need everyone on board—including the labor movement. Domestic violence compromises the well-being, job performance, and productivity of valuable employees and it is also one of the leading causes of workplace violence. The following statistics from the Joint Labor and Management Domestic Violence Awareness Program make a clear case for why domestic violence should be of concern for employers and unions:

  • Since almost 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence, a conservative estimate is that 10% of employees may be affected by domestic violence.
  • 24% of abused women said they were either late or missed days of work due to abuse.
  • Batterers commit 13,000 violent acts against their partners in the workplace each year.

The NFL isn’t the only employer who can, and should, address domestic violence as a workplace issue. Employers, employees, and community advocates across the nation can work together to establish domestic violence in the workplace policies. On their website, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has created a sample policy for local businesses to use, as well as sample safety plans and best practices on how employers and coworkers can become an active witness if they believe someone in the work place is experiencing domestic violence.

The Coalition is committed to engaging community partners in a conversation about domestic violence and stakeholders’ role in ensuring New Hampshire communities, including the workplace, are safe for everyone. Their commitment to ending domestic violence has been recognized by the Allstate Foundation. Currently, the Coalition is one of 140 organizations nationwide participating in a fundraising competition—the #PurplePurse Challenge—aimed at igniting awareness about domestic violence and the role finances play in abuse.

You can help this local nonprofit win a national fundraising campaign by making a small gift of $10 or more today. Every dollar counts—the top ten fundraising groups will win additional funds, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. Click the link below to get in on the Purple Purse Challenge—all donations collected will help the Coalition address domestic violence issues in New Hampshire.

https://www.crowdrise.com/purplepurse-nhcadsv

 

AFL-CIO Announces Targeted Mail Campaign In Select States

AFLCIO Mail

AFLCIO MailMail to hit nearly 1 million households in AK, CO, CT, FL, IA, IL, KY, ME, MI and WI

(Washington, DC)—This week the AFL-CIO will launch its 2014 mail program, designed to persuade voters to support working family candidates. The mail is part of the AFL-CIO’s massive political mobilization program, which includes knocking on doors, distributing worksite fliers and phone banking. With more than 12 million members, the AFL-CIO’s boots on the ground make it one of the largest grassroots efforts in the country.

This week’s mail program includes 25 different pieces in 10 states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin. The mail specifies the economic stakes this fall for all working people. The program is built on the trust and solidarity within unions and is designed to encourage voting even among working people who are discouraged by the weak economy.

Subjects include the need for working people to vote to counteract corporate control of politics, hold accountable pro-Wall Street politicians, support public education and enable paid sick leave. This mail program will continue through Election Day, and conversations with union members about working family candidates will continue into 2015 and beyond.

To view individual mail pieces, click on this link or paste it into your browser: http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/2014-Printed-Mail-Political-Ads

Leominster Hospital CEO Refuses To Meet With Nurses Union Over Staffing Cuts

Nurses Make a Difference

Leominster Hospital CEO Refuses to Meet With Nurses To Hear Nurses’ Patient Safety Concerns Regarding the Proposed Staffing Cuts, Service Consolidation and Increases to Nurses’ Patient Assignments

CEO Deborah Weymouth’s Refusal Follows the Delivery of Petition Signed by 90 Percent of the Nurses on Staff Warning that the Cuts Will Jeopardize Care for All Patients at the Facility

Other News:  MNA/NNU Submits Letters to DPH Asking the Agency to Reject the Hospital’s Application for the Ill-Conceived Merger of its Pediatric Unit and Maternity Unit Claiming the Placement of Ill Children with Healthy Newborns Will Increase the Risk of Infection and Other Negative Outcomes 

LEOMINSTER, Mass. ¾ The nurses at UMass Memorial/Health Alliance Leominster Hospital were alarmed to learn this week that their CEO Deborah Weymouth has refused to meet with them to hear their serious concerns about the impact of a plan her management team has proposed to cut nursing and support staff, increase nurses’ patient assignments and to reorganize patient care services – a plan the nurses believe will jeopardize the quality and safety of care for every patient entering the hospital.

Last week, a delegation of nurses hand delivered petitions opposing the hospital’s plan signed by more than 90 percent of the nurses on staff at the hospital to Weymouth, along with a letter asking for a meeting with Weymouth where she could hear the nurses concerns directly before proceeding with the dangerous changes.  At the delivery, Weymouth stated she would be pleased to meet with the nurses, but this week the hospital’s vice president of human resources notified the Massachusetts Nurses Association that Weymouth was reneging on her offer to meet, and would only meet with the nurses after the staffing cuts and service consolidation was implemented.

“We are shocked by our CEOs total disregard for the nurses and patients at this hospital as demonstrated by her refusal to hear what we have to say about changes that will impact the safety of our patients. “said Natalie M. Pereira, a nurse at the hospital and chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United. “She is the CEO, the buck stops with her and so does the responsibility for the safety of every patient in this hospital. It is all too clear that she cares more about the bucks than the patients at this facility, which only strengthens nurses’ resolve to speak out about the dangers of this plan.”

MNA Appeals to DPH to Reject Health Alliance Plan to Merge the Hospital’s Pediatric and Maternity Unit 

As part of its effort to stop these changes to patient care delivery, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United has submitted letters to the Department of Public Health to alert the agency to risks posed to children and newborns under the hospitals plan to merge its pediatric, labor and delivery and maternity units, which are currently separated and distinct units with specialized staff to care for each patient population.  To obtain copies of the letters to DPH, contact David Schildmeier at dschildmeier@mnarn.org; 781-249-0430.

The hospital’s plan also calls for the merger of  the pediatric, labor and delivery, and maternity units, cutting staff on these units, and expecting nurses who currently specialize in each area to cross train to practice in multiple areas. This proposal goes against what the professional standards for maternity and pediatric care show is best for those patients.

The hospital has made an application to DPH to obtain approval for architectural plans to construct a combined unit. They must also seek clinical approval for the mixing of staff to care for these patients.

The MNA letters ask DPH to reject the hospital’s application, pointing to faults in the plan that fail to provide necessary structural features to protect mothers and newborns from serious infections.  The letters also cite the dangers of the hospital’s plan to require the cross training of nurses to allow nurses who care for sick children to also work with vulnerable newborns and mothers.

Below is a key section of the first letter that was mailed to DPH:

Leominster’s plans also include assigning nursing staff to cover two very different types of units each with their own special set of risks of hospital acquired infection. Assigning nurses to care for both infected pediatric patients and mothers/neonates at the same time is dangerous and should not be permitted. The risk for cross-contamination and subsequent hospital-acquired infections is high and violates MDPH regulations at 105 CMR 130.740 which state “Nursing personnel regularly assigned to the Pediatric unit or sub-unit shall have this as their primary patient care responsibility.” The rationale behind these long-standing regulations is patient protection, which these plans would violate.  Hospital-acquired infections are generally viewed as one of the biggest challenges facing hospitals and public health today, with little progress made to address this problem in the past decade. Leominster’s space and service plans will be an enormous step backwards, rather than progress forward, in addressing this well documented patient safety goal.

A second letter was sent to DPH this week to reinforce the MNA/NNU’s position and the dangers of the hospital’s plan, highlighting the recent outbreak of the Enterovirus D68 virus and the risks that would pose to children at Leominster Hospital if these units were merged.

The second letter to DPH states:

Given the EV068 enterovirus is already taxing the Pedi units and PICUs in other states, who are reporting calling in extra staff to respond, it is clearly more urgent than ever that UMass Leominster not be permitted to place pediatric patients with neonates, as their plans call for.

“Any careful examination of the hospitals plans, whether it is the plan to merge these units, or to cut staff in the ED and increase patient assignments on other floors, shows that patients are being at unnecessary risk for injury or harm,” said Theresa Love, a nurse on the pediatric unit and member of the nurses negotiating committee.  “The failure of our CEO to even listen to these concerns is shocking to say the least.”

The hospital’s plan calls for increasing nurses’ patient assignments from five to six on the hospital’s medical-surgical floor, which research shows increases the risk of death for all those patients by 7 to 14 percent. Management is also proposing cuts to ED staffing, which will mean longer wait times for patients, more boarding of patients, and the likelihood that a patient could suffer a complication because of these delays in care.

The Leominster RNs have moved forward with a community awareness campaign to tell the public how a planned downsizing of staff at the hospital could hurt medical care for patients. Nurses have distributed lawn signs and store signs throughout the community that read, “Leominster Nurses Say Staffing Cuts Hurt Us All.”  They have also been meeting with local legislators and policymakers to educate them about the dangers of the Health Alliance/UMass staffing cuts. “We want the community to know that reduced staffing will force the remaining RNs to take on higher caseloads, and the impact this will have on our patients,” Pereira said.

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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses’ union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast.

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