NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 15, 2011

A charged dispute

Electrical workers union targets Anna Jaques doctors

NEWBURYPORT — Doctors have become the prime targets in an electrical union's campaign to get Anna Jaques Hospital to automatically choose union contractors for a $15 million expansion project.

A handful of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 have been holding signs in front of the hospital entrance for nearly a month, insisting that the hospital hire union workers who collect health insurance. Their campaign has steadily reached beyond the hospital administration; each week, protesters have been holding signs displaying website addresses specifically targeting local doctors.

Last week, union members protested in front of Newburyport Family Practice on Cherry Street to target Dr. Renae Freid. This week, the union is in front of the hospital's main entrance, targeting emergency room doctor John McLaulin.

Both of them, along with 22 other doctors affiliated with the local hospital, were on a handout and on a website published by Local 103 that listed the number of malpractice payments the doctors made during their medical career. Most of the doctors made one payment. Three doctors made two.

The information is public, but details of the malpractice cases are not.

The Daily News reached out to all the doctors on the list, but none would comment or return calls.

At the hospital, administrators vowed not to change their mind on how the building committee chooses an electrical contractor.

Deb Chiaravalloti, hospital spokeswoman, said nothing has changed since protesters first appeared near the hospital entrance on March 25. A building committee overseeing the project is receiving bids for another two weeks and will then choose a contractor, Chiaravalloti said.

"It hasn't changed our point of view and practice," Chiaravalotti said. "We're going to have a fair and open bidding process and choose the best electrical contractor for the job."

The hospital has called the tactics by the union "heavy-handed bullying."

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