Thursday November 15, 2012

HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- Just two days after unionized workers at the Brattleboro Retreat held an informational picket to draw attention to what the union has called deteriorating contract talks, the psychiatric hospital is announcing layoffs.

Retreat Senior Vice President of Government Relations Peter Albert said Wednesday that 31 positions will be eliminated at the Retreat due to what Albert says are projected deficits in 2012 and 2013.

"As a result of this current financial condition the Retreat will be implementing staff reductions in both administrative and clinical areas affecting both non-union and union positions," Albert said. "Any staff reductions are regrettable and very difficult for all of us given the incredible dedication that our employees have for their work on behalf of patient care."

The Retreat informed the union about the looming layoffs during contract talks Tuesday.

Jack Callaci, director of collective bargaining and organizing for United Nurses & Allied Professionals, which represents about 500 workers at the Retreat, said the layoffs highlight mismanagement among the hospital’s administration.

"For the past few years we have been told time and time again about how successful the Retreat has been, and now we find out they have squandered millions of dollars," Callaci said. "The programs they are getting rid of are the programs that used to set them apart. They are giving more money to paper-shuffling managers and eliminating counselors who work with patients."

The Retreat was notifying people about the layoffs throughout the day Wednesday.