John Olsen, AFL-CIO presidentUnion leaders gathered Friday on the steps of the National Labor Relations Board offices in Hartford to deliver letters from Connecticut’s Congressional delegation that ask the national five-member board to hold oral arguments before it decides to broaden the definition of supervisor. If the NLRB agrees to broaden the definition of supervisor, in three cases known collectively as the Kentucky River cases, hundreds of thousands of workers could lose their union protection, John Olsen, president of Connecticut’s AFL-CIO said. He said, this is not a partisan issue, “it should be the fundamental right of everyone in this country to form a union.”
The NLRB Act’s primary definition does not include the word supervisor and thus would eliminate the rights of employees classified as supervisors to join unions and bargain collectively. Teamster Mark Pagnozzi, a Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority worker, knows all too well what a decision like this means. Just this week the NLRB’s regional director, Peter Hoffman, concluded that Pagnozzi is a supervisor. Teamster Mark PagnozziThe decision, which Pagnozzi, said he would appeal found that because Pagnozzi has the ability to reassign vehicles and crews from one location to another, he’s a supervisor. Pagnozzi said he came to Hartford Tuesday, to stand up for any union member who might make a decision in the course of their work day. Pagnozzi joined Olsen and union leaders from nurses to machinists in delivering the delegations letters to the regional assistant director, John Cotter. Cotter agreed to convey the unions message along with the letters to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington DC after a 20-minute discussion, in which the union leaders were allowed to make their arguments in opposition to any change. Cotter said he’s been given instructions to immediately submit the letters to the NLRB in Washington D.C. The decision would effect a wide array of professions and industries. Two nurses, Lisa D’Abrosca and Mary Florio, said it will decrease the basic level of care people receive in hospitals. Florio, a bedside nurse explained that she’s not a supervisor because she has no ability to hire, fire, or discipline other nurses, but at times she needs to make critical decisions. She said if the emergency room sends up five admissions and five admissions are coming from post-op, she needs to be able to call down to the ER and tell them to slow it down because it diminishes the quality of patient care. Florin explained that the nurses unions were formed in Connecticut to protect the quality of patient care. She said before it became law mandatory overtime was required by these hospitals. Lisa D’Abrosca, L and M Hospital RN, AFT-CTD’Abrosca said, “as nurses our primary responsibility is to advocate for our patients and we can only do that when we feel we can advocate for ourselves.” She said it’s only when the union allows these nurses to speak up for themselves can they become the best patient advocates.Mark Hebert who represents workers at Hamilton Sunstrand and Pratt and Whitney said if critical thinking becomes the benchmark for deciding who is and isn’t a supervisor then everyone employed from the assembly line up would be a supervisor. He said at the introductory level ‘they’re making decisions on whether parts are good or bad.” He said if you remove decision making at this level “we would lose our leadership capabilities in making” parts for planes. Frank Ennis, who represents construction workers and engineers said 20 percent of construction foreman would be out of work and concluded an unfavorable decision could impact the entire construction industry in the state. He said if a construction foreman is required to oversee health and safety concerns then no one may want to tell workers in a confined area that they’re in danger, for fear they would lose their union status.