NORWICH, Conn. (AP) — Nurses who went on a two-day strike amid disputes over pay and the availability of protective gear at a Norwich hospital have returned to work as contract negotiations continue.
More than 400 nurses went on strike this week at the William W. Backus Hospital in breakdown of contract talks between hospital management and the nurses’ union, which described struggles to get enough personal protective equipment.
Negotiations with Hartford HealthCare, which operates the hospital, were expected to resume on Friday, according to Backus President Donna Handley. She said licensed nurses from around the state provided care during the strike and patients were not put at risk.
Sherri Dayton, a Backus nurse and president of Local 5149, said hospital operations took a hit from the strike.
“It’s not business as usual in there, that’s for sure. They canceled elective surgeries for the two days of the strike, and they closed down two floors: progressive care and oncology,” Dayton said, according to The Day of New London.
The union and hospital management have been in contract negotiations since June.
Handley said before the strike nurses had been offered “significant” wage increases — 12.5% over three years — along with additional paid time off and a 2% decrease in health care premiums.
Backus nurses say they’re paid less than those at other area hospitals, while Backus is one of the most profitable hospitals in the state. They also say they have not had sufficient personal protective equipment during the pandemic and have had to repeatedly reuse gear including N95 masks.