Decision Has No Effect on Return of Striking Employee
DANBURY, Conn. – March 4, 2013 – The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey granted a motion today that allows five Connecticut health care centers (Centers) to implement temporary modifications to their collective bargaining agreements, thereby avoiding what otherwise would have been the imminent closure of the facilities, the Centers announced.
The Court order allows the Centers to temporarily implement virtually the same terms and conditions of employment for Union-represented employees that have applied to non-union employees since October 31, 2011. The Centers’ union workforces are represented by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU (Union).
Without approval of the 1113(e) motion, the Centers would have suffered substantial monthly losses as a result of the onerous terms of the Union labor agreements. The losses would have prevented the Centers from obtaining debtor-in-possession financing and forced them to close and liquidate.
“Today’s decision gives the Centers the time to resume negotiations with the Union so that they can reach new agreements that balance the needs of the Centers and their Union-represented employees,” said Lisa Crutchfield, Senior Vice President, Labor Relations for HealthBridge Management LLC, which provides management services to the Centers. “If the Centers are unable to reach consensual agreements with the Union, they will request Court approval for permanent modifications to the Centers’ terms of employment.”
The Centers have complied with an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut by reinstating all Union-represented employees who accepted offers of reinstatement, as well as by reinstituting the terms and conditions of employment that were in effect prior to June 17, 2012.
“The Union employees who were on strike began returning to work yesterday,” Ms. Crutchfield said. “Their reinstatement was aided by refresher orientations and training to ensure a smooth transition and seamless patient care.”
Each of the five centers is a sub-acute and long-term nursing care facility for the elderly in Connecticut. The facilities are: Long Ridge of Stamford, Newington Health Care Center, Westport Health Care Center, West River Health Care Center, and Danbury Health Care Center.
The Centers filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Feb. 24 in order to implement plans to create competitive and durable cost structures. The Centers’ plans include gaining relief from unsustainable Union pension and medical benefits costs and other restrictive provisions in the Union labor agreements that hamstring the Centers’ flexibility and competitiveness.
About the Centers
The five Centers provide long-term care and short-term rehabilitation services. For long term care residents who have medical needs, the Centers provide 24-hour-a-day nursing care, nutritional monitoring and planning, medication management, personal care and other medical services such as podiatry, dentistry and ophthalmology. For individuals in need of nursing and/or rehabilitation services following a recent hospitalization for orthopedic surgery, stroke, oncology care, cardiac care, general surgery and other diagnoses, the Centers offer medical and physical rehabilitation including physical, occupational and speech therapy, rehabilitative nursing and physician directed rehabilitation plans, IV therapy, wound care and other services. The Centers are managed but not owned by HealthBridge Management LLC, which is not party to the Chapter 11 filing.