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September 13, 2011

Rally on tap to push out protesters

Pro-hospital group wants union picketers out of city

NEWBURYPORT — Citizens Supporting Anna Jaques Hospital members plan to hold a rally early next month as they continue their efforts to persuade an electrical union that has been picketing outside the hospital for months to leave the city once and for all.

The rally is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Brown's Square in downtown Newburyport.

The group, co-founded by Haley's Ice Cream owner Michael Roy, was formed as a response to what members believed were the bullying tactics of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 as it protested the hospital's decisions to hire nonunion electrical workers as part of its $15 million renovation project.

Roy said the rally is being organized to continue the group's support of the hospital and its staff. The rally will also feature live music, a raffle and an awards ceremony to honor group members, city councilors who have voiced their support of his group's efforts and those who first posted pro-hospital signs in businesses and on lawns, Roy said.

"IBEW 103 can certainly outspend us and out-manpower us, but we will do the max of what we can do," Roy said.

IBEW Local 103 spokesman Louis Antonellis said the rally wouldn't deter his union from continuing its protests.

"It doesn't change what we're doing. We've got a message, and we think it's legitimate. We think health care is important and we think hospitals should think so, too," Antonellis said.

The union has said it will continue its picket into 2012; it hasn't stated a specific time when it will end the pickets.

It is IBEW Local 103's contention that by awarding a contract to nonunion electrical workers, Anna Jaques Hospital could be hiring workers who aren't guaranteed health care benefits by their employer.

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