Wednesday afternoon, the following press release was issued by New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, which has been embroiled in a dispute with New Jersey-based HealthBridge Management over contracts for workers at six of its facilities for many months:
“On April 30, 2012, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a Complaint against HealthBridge Management/Care One, a nursing home chain, alleging that the company ‘failed and refused to bargain in good faith’ with the union representing 800 caregivers at six Connecticut nursing homes.
This is the fifth Complaint the NLRB has issued against the employer involving unlawful conduct over the past two years leading up to and during contract negotiations with the union, District 1199.
The new Complaint alleges three additional serious violations of federal labor law:
- During February 2012, six different HealthBridge officials issued threats to close all of the company’s union facilities in Connecticut unless the union agreed to massive concessions in new contracts, demands that the NLRB previously characterized as “predictably unacceptable” and evidence of bad-faith bargaining.
- In early February 2012, HealthBridge discharged an employee at the Long Ridge of Stamford facility because of union activity, “to discourage employees from engaging” in similar actions.
- A Complaint, filed on March 21st, 2011 focused on the company’s firing of 48 subcontracted housekeeping and laundry workers. Subsequently, HealthBridge rehired them at lower rates of pay, with fewer benefits and without seniority. The case is awaiting a decision by an Administrative Law Judge following a trial. The most recent Complaint says HealthBridge ‘bypassed the Union and dealt directly with their employees …regarding the resolution of the unfair labor practices,’ in an attempt to resolve the issues central to the March 21 complaint, conduct which violates federal labor law.
Commenting on the NLRB’s recent action, 1199 President David Pickus said, ‘From the beginning, HealthBridge was bargaining in bad faith, with no intent to settle a contract, unlike 46 other Connecticut nursing homes where we have successfully settled new contracts. In case after case, HealthBridge has shown themselves willing to destroy workers’ lives and sacrifice the quality of care for the frail elderly entrusted to their care, all to increase investors’ profits.’
‘These cumulative violations of labor law show they have little regard for the NLRB, for their employees, for their residents or for Connecticut’s communities, all the while siphoning off millions of taxpayer dollars in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for elder care. ‘
The six nursing homes involved in the dispute are located in Danbury, Milford, Newington, Stamford, Westport, and Wethersfield; the facilities are owned by Care Realty and operated by Healthbridge Management, for-profit related companies based in New Jersey.
The NLRB has set a July 9th trial date for this most recent complaint.”
The complaint is just the latest chapter in the struggle between HealthBridge and the union. In December, HealthBridge actually locked 100 union employees at West River Health Care in Milford. The lockout ended in early April, when HealthBridge and the union agreed to four bargaining sessions in April and May.
Also on Wednesday, union workers and activists picketed and rallied at another HealthBridge facility, Wethersfield Health Care Center.