Disruptive, aggressive IBEW hauls out inflatable rat

A jumbo inflatable rat outside the Danvers branch of Beverly (MA) Hospital isn't an escapee from a local "Nutcracker" performance. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103, hopes the oversized rat shows its distaste for the hospital's choice of contractor at its recently opened Route 62 facility.

Three union representatives were handing out pamphlets Monday in Danvers and another three were in Beverly, said Rich Antonellis, the union's business agent. The handouts say "BEWARE" in bold print and on the back list 16 physicians who, according to the union, have paid malpractice claims.

Hospital leaders found the tactic disappointing, spokeswoman Heather Jones said in a statement this week. They also said they were saddened by the union's "recent and aggressive actions" and "their attempts to disrupt our patients' access to care at our new, state-of-the-art health care facility in Danvers."

The IBEW local's pamphlets also said that the contractor had "working conditions that are below community standards." Antonellis said the electricians hired by Beverly Hospital were not offered health care.

"We feel it's a slap in the face to all the contractors that do provide health care," he said.

Eddie Zinck of project contractor Interstate Electrical Services said Antonellis' claim that the company didn't provide health care was a "misstatement."

"We have a comprehensive benefits program," said Zinck, the company's human resources manager.

Interstate, however, is not affiliated with the union, he said.

"We're a merit shop," Zinck said.

Antonellis did say Beverly Hospital has a right to hire the contractor it prefers. However, he thought the hospital was more interested in profit over the well-being of workers or residents.

"Beverly Hospital would rather take the cheap way out for them rather than doing it the right way," he said.

Union leaders said their tactics are fair and that they're fighting to keep their presence in the area, he said.

"We're going to hit them with everything we can hit them with," Antonellis said. "And basically everything's fair game as far as we're concerned."

The union representatives arrived last Wednesday and will be outside the hospitals indefinitely, Antonellis said.


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