The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a sweeping federal Complaint today against HealthBridge Management/Care One, saying the long-term care corporation “failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union” in negotiations for new contracts for 800 caregivers at six Connecticut nursing homes. Several news sources have already picked up the story (click on any of the links below):
- The Hartford Courant, “Federal Agency: Nursing Home Lockout Is Illegal“
- The News-Times, “Labor Board Issues Complaint Against HealthBridge”
- The Hartford Business Journal, “Labor Board Issues Complaint Against HealthBridge Nursing Homes”
- Democratic Underground, “NLRB Issues Fourth Complaint Against Nursing Home Chain”
The 11-page Complaint says that HealthBridge “refused to engaged in the reasoned discussion of its proposals,” “threatened to lockout employees in each of the Units in support of its final bargaining proposals,” and unlawfully “locked out the employees in the West River Unit.” The federal Complaint also sets a date of May 21, 2012 for a trial before an Administrative Law Judge, where Labor Board attorneys will prosecute the case against New Jersey-based HealthBridge/Care One, the operator of 62 nursing homes.
The principal investors in HealthBridge/Care One, brothers Daniel and Moshael Straus, also hold major equity positions in related companies that lease the nursing home properties, provide management services, and sell drugs and medical supplies to the chain of nursing homes.
This is the fourth Complaint issued by the Labor Board against HealthBridge/Care One, but the first to focus primarily on the issue of bad-faith bargaining by the corporation in their negotiations with NEHCEU, District 1199.
1199 President David Pickus said, “It was apparent from Day One that HealthBridge was bargaining in bad faith, with no intent to settle a contract, unlike the 43 other Connecticut nursing homes where we successfully settled new contracts over the last year.”
“In locking workers out in Milford and then threatening to close six Connecticut nursing homes, destroy more than 800 jobs and evict 1200+ nursing home residents, they have violated the law and shown themselves willing to sacrifice the quality of care and life for the frail elderly entrusted to the company’s care to increase investors’ profits.”
“HealthBridge has repeatedly demonstrated that the only basis for reaching agreement is workers’ acceptance of terms that would totally destroy their standard of living and push many into poverty. Offering to meet “around the clock” for the sole purpose of reiterating HealthBridge’s “accept our Settlement terms or face lockouts and/or facility closures” is evidence of unlawful bad faith bargaining.”
“The Labor Board’s thorough investigation of the evidence uncovered HealthBridge’s unlawful intent and resulted in the Complaint issued today.”
The central DC office of the NRLB has already issued a “Decision and Order” on a case against a New Jersey nursing home, Somerset Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, operated by Care One, which demonstrates similar patterns of unlawful behavior by the company.
On December 30, 2011, NLRB Chairman Pearce and Board members Craig Becker and Brian Hayes concluded that “by refusing … to recognize and bargain with the union … and to furnish the Union with requested information, the Respondent has engaged in Unfair Labor Practices,” and ordered Care One to bargain with the Union and furnish the requested information.
“Clearly, this is a corporation with no scruples when it comes to violating the law,” Pickus said. “The NLRB Decision in the New Jersey case reveals a broad pattern of illegal behavior aimed at stripping workers of their rights, dignity and self-sufficiency, all to feed corporate greed. In the HealthBridge world view, workers should live in poverty so one-percenters like Daniel Straus can spend the millions of public dollars he rakes in each year from Medicaid and Medicare on investments like the $95 million of luxury properties in Manhattan he purchased in 2010 from the Whitney Museum in Manhattan.”