Hospital, union to end hostilities

After more than a year of controversy and confrontations, the standoff between Yale-New Haven Hospital and New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199 is expected to reach an amicable conclusion.

A hearing before the National Labor Relations Board scheduled for Monday was postponed for the third time in two months in anticipation of the two sides signing an agreement, NLRB spokesman Richard Concepcion said. The hearing was initially scheduled to determine whether Yale-New Haven administration was responsible for obstructing union activities at the hospital during the past year.

The pending agreement is the result of five weeks of face-to-face meetings between officials from District 1199, Yale-New Haven and the NLRB. The settlement, expected to be announced Tuesday, will likely require the hospital to be neutral in District 1199′s attempts to unionize the 1,800 service and maintenance workers at Yale-New Haven.

Concepcion declined to elaborate on the matter until an official settlement is announced.

Though the March 19 hearing was described as “indefinitely postponed,” both Concepcion and District 1199 spokeswoman Deborah Chernoff do not expect that the hearing will ever take place.

Chernoff said she was anxious for the long and bitter legal process to end.

“I feel we’re close to reaching a settlement, but it isn’t official until it’s been signed,” Chernoff said. “It’s unfortunate it took this amount of time to get the hospital to do what they should anyway, but we’re where we want to be.”

The hospital’s representative to the talks was on vacation Monday and unreachable.

District 1199, which has been trying to provide hospital employees with better wages and benefits since January 2000, originally filed a complaint with the NLRB last summer in response to two incidents in which hospital workers participating in union-related activities were allegedly threatened by hospital police.

The NLRB recognized the validity of 1199′s complaints Sept. 28 and scheduled a hearing for Feb. 5. Yale-New Haven later requested that the hearing be postponed so the two sides could resolve the matter without federal intervention. Subsequent hearing dates of Feb. 12 and March 19 were also cancelled in anticipation of a settlement.

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