I am writing in reference to your story “HealthBridge workers set to go on strike Tuesday.” As the son of a longtime resident, I would like to signal my support for the many dedicated workers at my father’s facility in Milford (and at all HealthBridge sites) in what has been a frustrating and, at times, inexplicable negotiation process.
For more than 12 years, my father has received reliable care and companionship from West River’s unionized staff. West River employees made it possible for my father to attend my wedding in Boston. They have been there for him during many late-night medical emergencies and during many more long, otherwise lonely, days at the home. They will be replaced with non-unionized staff for reasons that still remain troublingly unclear.
After a 14-week lockout, employees were allowed back on the job in March as long as they agreed to additional negotiation sessions. Then, HealthBridge suddenly ended these negotiations when it issued a “last, best and final” offer. Now, health care workers are being asked to accept a multiple-thousand-dollar pay cut without complaint or compromise. Meanwhile, HealthBridge, which has a history of similar practice in other states, continues to enjoy multimillion-dollar annual profits. I still do not have any explanation for why HealthBridge decided to end negotiations, nor for why any of this is even necessary in the first place.
While I am concerned about the discontinuity in my father’s care, I realize that the decision to strike must have been incredibly difficult, and I am disappointed that workers were left with no other options. In letters to family members, West River has insisted repeatedly that residents’ care is their highest priority. If they really feel this way, they will put pressure on HealthBridge to rescind its offer and to negotiate a livable contract.
Peter – we are grateful for and humbled by your support, and we look forward to the day when HealthBridge stops breaking the law and starts negotiating in good faith!