Injunction granted against HealthBridge

Federal Judge Robert N. Chatigny granted an injunction filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to temporarily halt New Jersey-based HealthBridge Management’s unilateral implementation of a new contract at five Connecticut nursing homes.

The injunction is the latest chapter what has become an ugly battle between HealthBridge and New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU, the union representing many of its employees.

In June, HealthBridge implemented a “last, best and final” contract after more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations with the union. On July 3, about 600 workers at five HealthBridge facilities — West River Health Care Center in Milford, Long Ridge in Stamford, Danbury Health Care Center, Newington Health Care Center, Westport Health Care Center — went on strike to protest the action, claiming that HealthBridge had unilaterally imposed unfair working conditions at the homes.

Previous to the strike, Healthbridge locked out employees of West River for 14 weeks.

The federal injunction reverses HealthBridge’s unilateral implementation of contract conditions that destroyed workers’ ability to support their families and provide quality care to residents.

“This ruling is a decisive victory for workers and a sign that HealthBridge cannot get away with its unfair and illegal treatment of its employees” said David Pickus, President of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU in a press release issued Tuesday. “The question remains not whether HealthBridge is violating the law, but how many more times does HealthBridge have to be found guilty of illegal activity until the company decides to work with its employees to settle a fair contract? Until they do, the health and well-being of workers and their patients hangs in the balance.”

Today’s decision is subject to appeal in a U.S. Court of Appeals. However, HealthBridge will be required to implement the judge’s decision while the appeals process is ongoing.

Amanda Cuda