HealthBridge Workers Visit Employer’s NYU Institute

HealthBridge caregivers gathered in New York City on Wednesday to visit the Straus Institute at NYU Law School, endowed with millions by HealthBridge principal Daniel Straus while his company cuts $30 million in wages and benefits for Connecticut caregivers over the next six years.

Approximately 50 caregivers and their supporters made the appeal to the institute’s director, Professor Joseph H.H. Weiler, and requested his help to end the three-week-old strike.

With the help of NYU students attending the event, the nurses, aides and nursing home support staff delivered their letter to Weiler and asked him to call on Straus, who continues to make annual gifts of $1.25 million, to reverse the cuts and return to negotiations.  In their letter, they informed Weiler of the most recent Complaint issued by the federal Labor Board stating that HealthBridge “failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union” when it implemented changes to wages, hours and other conditions of employment.

NYU security barred HealthBridge workers from entering the building, and even confiscated flyers given to passersby as they entered the building, drawing the ire of students concerned about violations to free-speech guarantees on campus.

NYU undergraduate student Caitlin MacLaren delivered the letter.  “[Weiler] didn’t agree to speak with workers, but he was on his way to an event.  I really hope he reads the letter.  Anyone would be moved by this story,” she said.”It’s a bit ironic that NYU looks to Straus as an advocate for justice, and has made him a trustee on the board.  Meanwhile, he runs a company that breaks the law in every state where they operate.”

Sophia Forbes has been a CNA at Newington Health Care Center for 19 years.  Asked what she would say if she had the opportunity to speak with Prof. Weiler, she said, “I would just tell him what we’re asking for.  Like we say on the picket line, ‘Be fair to those who care.’  We’re asking for HealthBridge to sit down and negotiate a contract fairly.  And hopefully, he cares enough about us to listen.”

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