Connecticut Nursing Home Workers Strike Against HealthBridge
Approximately 700 workers at five Connecticut nursing homes have gone on strike in the wake of claims of unfair labor practices used by their employer, HealthBridge Management.
The workers walked out on July 3, just days after HealthBridge unilaterally terminated their pensions, raised health insurance premiums, reduced their number of sick days, and limited their ability to air work-related grievances during work hours, the Hartford Courant reported.
Deborah Chernoff, a spokesperson for SEIU 1199NE, which represents the workers, told Labor Notes, “Pretty much every right and benefit and economic gain people have struggled for over the last 30 years [has been] eliminated.”
NLRB Files Complaint
On July 6, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a formal complaint against HealthBridge, stating that the company had “failed and refused to bargain in good faith” with is workers.
HealthBridge, a national health care management company based in New Jersey, has run afoul of the NLRB before. Last December, it illegally locked out workers at the West River Health Care Center in Milford, drawing an NLRB complaint.
West River is one of the five nursing homes where workers are striking against HealthBridge.
Governor Joins Picket Line
On July 11, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D) joined a picket line outside the Newington Health Care Center.
“Let’s be honest,” Malloy told the gathered workers, according to the Connecticut Mirror. “What HealthBridge is attempting to do illegally is to break the union.”
“I have to tell you I can’t quite discern what they really want in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy continued. “Do they want to be here, or don’t they want to be here? Let me be very clear, they are going to owe these employees hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Chernoff said that HealthBridge is exploiting the current economic downturn to wring concessions from its workers.
“In this economic climate there’s more of an appetite to think that people are so terrified about losing their jobs that they’ll accept anything,” she said.
In addition to the West River Health Care Center, workers are striking at:
- Danbury Health Care Center,
- Long Ridge of Stamford,
- Newington Health Care Center, and
- Westport Health Care Center.
– by Matthew Ozga