Court Approves Interim Modifications to Labor Agreements for Five Connecticut Health Care Centers

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.

Bankruptcy Court to Rule on Connecticut Health Care Centers’ Motion for Interim Labor Agreement Modifications on Monday

Centers Complying with District Court’s Injunction Allowing
Union-Represented Employees to Return to Work Today

DANBURY, Conn. – March 3, 2013 – The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey heard a motion on Friday submitted by five Connecticut health care centers (Centers) that would allow the Centers to impose temporary modifications to their collective bargaining agreements with the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU (Union).  The Court indicated that it will issue its ruling on Monday.

If granted, the motion will allow 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 said the Bankruptcy Court’s ruling will have no effect on their continuing compliance with an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut  that calls for the reinstatement today of approximately 700 Union-represented employees.

“We are proceeding with the reinstatement of our Union-represented employees and have been providing refresher orientation and training to ensure a smooth transition and seamless patient care,” said Lisa Crutchfield, Senior Vice President, Labor Relations for HealthBridge Management LLC, which provides management services to the Centers.

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 a plan to create a competitive and durable cost structure.  The plan includes gaining relief from unsustainable union pension and medical benefits costs and other restrictive 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.

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2nd CIRCUIT GRANTS HEALTHBRIDGE EXPEDITED APPEAL IN NLRB SECTION 10(j) INJUNCTION CASE

Appeal to be heard week of April 29

DANBURY, Conn. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has granted five HealthBridge managed health care centers an expedited appeal in connection with the December 11, 2012, order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to grant the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Section 10(j) injunctive relief in the case of members of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU striking against those five Connecticut HealthBridge managed centers. The expedited appeal was granted Monday, February 25.

HealthBridge managed health care centers spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield today issued the following statement:

“We are extremely pleased that the Second Circuit has granted our motion for expedited appeal in this important case. As we have said from the outset, we believe the District Court’s decision to grant injunctive relief unnecessarily short circuits the established venue – the ongoing NLRB trial – in which this issue should be resolved.

“We continue to firmly believe that the NLRB’s contention that the Centers’ implementation of their ‘last, best and final’ offers in June, 2012 after reaching impasse were unfair labor practices is unwarranted and without merit. The declarations of impasse and implementation were made after almost 18 months of negotiations repeatedly stalled by the union.  The implemented terms included improvements that boosted wage increases while reducing some of the concessions previously requested.  They were offered in good faith with the intent of providing a path to stability and labor peace, and we believe they were entirely lawful.”

In granting the motion for an expedited appeal, the Second Circuit established these court dates: opening briefs are due March 15; opposition briefs are due April 5; replies are due April 15; and the appeal is to be heard the week of April 29.

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Five Connecticut Health Centers Commence Reorganization Proceedings to Create Sustainable Cost Structure

No Interruption in Patient Care or General Operations

Chapter 11 Filing Driven by Unsustainable SEIU Labor Contracts

DANBURY, Conn.Feb. 25, 2013 -- Five Connecticut health care centers (Centers) filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Feb. 24 in order to implement a plan to create a competitive and durable cost structure.  The plan includes gaining relief from unsustainable union pension and medical benefits costs and other restrictive SEIU labor agreements that hamstring the Centers' flexibility and competitiveness.

The Centers, which provide skilled nursing care, are managed by HealthBridge Management LLC, but the Chapter 11 filing pertains only to the five unionized Connecticut Centers and does not apply to either HealthBridge Management itself or other health care centers it manages.  The burdensome pension and benefit costs and restrictive work rules are part of expired labor agreements that were negotiated in 2004 with the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 (SEIU, District 1199).

The Chapter 11 proceeding will not affect patient care, relations with physicians or any other of the Centers' normal operations.  "The continued excellent care and safety of the Centers' residents remains paramount, and we wish to assure both the residents and their families that the five Centers will continue to operate as normal under bankruptcy protection, with no interruption of services," said Lisa Crutchfield , Senior Vice President, Labor Relations.  "It's business as usual at the Centers."

The Centers are in the process of negotiating debtor-in-possession financing and currently have sufficient cash to operate the facilities, including paying vendors for goods and services provided during the Chapter 11 process, without interruption.

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 Chapter 11 filing was made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.

Along with the voluntary petitions, the Centers filed a variety of "first-day" motions requesting authority to continue routine operations, including post-petition payments to suppliers and uninterrupted employee wages and benefits.  The Centers expect to receive Court approval of the motions at the initial Court hearing.

The Centers also filed a motion under Section 1113(e) of the Bankruptcy Code. The 1113 process will allow the Centers to request Court authority to implement first temporary and then permanent modifications to their 2004 collective bargaining agreements if the Centers are unable to implement the modifications through good-faith collective bargaining with SEIU, District 1199.  Although the bargaining agreements have expired, the Centers are required to abide by their terms and conditions.

"The Centers have a bright future if they can operate under labor agreements that reflect today's financial realities, but the fact is the Centers will not survive unless we have relief from the crushing burden of unsustainable labor costs, especially the spiraling costs of pension and healthcare obligations," Ms. Crutchfield said.

Under the existing collective bargaining agreements, the Centers would resume losing approximately $1.3 million per month.  The primary, if not sole, reason for the losses are untenable economic provisions in the CBAs. For example, the Centers:

  • spent over 225% more on pension benefits per resident-day than the statewide average;
  • spent 17% more on pensions per day than seven facilities with Union contracts that went into bankruptcy or receivership during 2012;
  • had total benefit costs per day 24% higher than other Union facilities in the state; and
  • had daily benefit costs 48% higher than the average of all facilities, Union and non-union, statewide.

The Centers are only the latest victims of unsustainable union labor contracts. SEIU, District 1199 represents employees at only 28% of Connecticut's nursing homes.  Yet it represented employees at 69% of the state's nursing homes that have closed since 2007.

"There is no getting around the fact that SEIU, District 1199, labor agreements are the leading reason for nursing home closures in Connecticut.  That's bad for patients, employees, physicians and the communities they serve," Ms. Crutchfield said.  "In our case, the union's collective bargaining agreements hobble the Centers with labor costs that are well above state averages and which are simply unsustainable."

More information about the pension and other benefit cost figures cited above is available in a previous HealthBridge news release here; the full review upon which it is based is available here.

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 and personal care.  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.

Even before Union Negotiations that Resulted in Strike, HealthBridge Wage, Benefit and Pension Costs Far Exceeded Averages in Connecticut Nursing Home Industry

Review of 2011 nursing home costs shows HealthBridge wage and benefit costs per day equal to 90% of its average Medicaid reimbursement rate, leaving only 10% to cover other operating costs

DANBURY, Conn. – A review of reported 2011 nursing home costs released today shows that even before negotiations with the SEIU that led to a July 3, 2012, strike, HealthBridge managed health care centers were already incurring wage, benefit and pension costs – on both an hourly and per resident day basis – that far exceeded those of other Connecticut nursing homes, both union and non-union.

The review shows that the 2011 per resident day labor costs at the HealthBridge managed Centers with District 1199 contracts equated to approximately 90 percent of its average Medicaid per resident day reimbursement rate. Seven of eight facilities that filed for bankruptcy protection or needed to be operated under a State Receivership over the past six months had expensive union contracts; the wage and benefit costs of those facilities are summarized in the review.  Facilities operated under State Receiverships are costly to the State of Connecticut.

The review was commissioned by HealthBridge and conducted by the outside accounting firm Marcum, LLP.  HealthBridge believes that the data presented, all of which was derived from publicly available records, clearly shows the financial impact that the onerous terms in the union contracts had on the Connecticut HealthBridge managed centers. In the negotiations that led up to the July 3 strike, the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU, which represents employees at HealthBridge’s five Connecticut nursing homes, sought even more increases in the already industry-high HealthBridge contracts.

The review shows that HealthBridge:

  • Spent over 225 percent more on pension benefits per resident day than the statewide average;
  • Spent 17 percent more on pensions per day than seven facilities with District 1199 contracts that went into bankruptcy or receivership during 2012.
  • Had total benefit costs per day 24 percent higher than other District 1199 union facilities in the state;
  • Had daily benefit costs 48 percent higher than the average of all facilities, union and non-union, statewide; and that

Per patient day labor costs – salaries and wages, benefits, health insurance, and pensions totaling $217.37per day – represent approximately 90 percent of the average Medicaid daily rate at HealthBridge District 1199 homes, leaving inadequate Medicaid revenue to cover the other costs of operations such as food, rent, power and Connecticut nursing home taxes of $21.02 per day per resident.  Of the residents in the HealthBridge Connecticut nursing homes that have union contracts, 76 percent are Medicaid patients.

HealthBridge spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield said, “This review vividly demonstrates that the high levels of pension and free health insurance demanded by the union and its political allies are unsustainable.  The HealthBridge managed centers already were enduring substantially higher labor costs than their competitors, yet the union demanded that we pay even more.  We had no choice but to ask for concessions on some of these extremely expensive benefits.”

Lawrence Condon, HealthBridge’s Regional Director of Operations, noted that the pension costs were especially high, saying, “During the negotiations, the union refused to budge on pension costs, one of the most significant cost-drivers. HealthBridge’s expired union contracts did not require employees to pay anything for their health insurance, including family coverage, or for their pensions.  Under the HealthBridge centers’ ‘Last, Best and Final’ offers, union workers have to pay some of their health insurance costs and the SEIU pension plan is replaced with a 401k plan.”

After nearly 17 months of negotiations with the SEIU led to no agreement, the HealthBridge centers implemented their Last, Best and Final Offers under the National Relations Labor Act.  In exchange for the concessions on health insurance, pensions, and other economic items, the HealthBridge Centers gave bargaining unit employees 9 percent raises in the first year and 17 percent raises over six years.  In response, on July 3 the SEIU went out on strike against the five HealthBridge Connecticut facilities.

Previous studies have found that the costs of Connecticut’s nursing home industry are among the highest in the nation, creating financial challenges for both seniors and the state budget.  According to Genworth Financial’s 2012 Cost of Care Study, median costs for Connecticut nursing home services in Connecticut are the nation’s second highest, exceeded only by Alaska, and at $135,050 per year are almost double the national median cost of $73,000 and substantially higher than neighboring states.

The Marcum-prepared cost comparison review explains the source of the publicly available unaudited data: “All nursing facilities that participate in the Medicaid program are required under state regulations to file the Annual Report of Long Term Care Facility (“Annual Report”) by December 31st of each year with the Department of Social Services (“DSS”).  The Annual Report includes detailed cost, employee hours, revenue, service utilization and ownership information associated with the filing nursing facility for the period October 1st through September 30th.”

The review separated out the costs for health care, wages, benefits, and pensions for multiple groupings of facilities, including statewide, HealthBridge centers, facilities in bankruptcy or receivership, closed facilities, non-District 1199 union facilities, and facilities with District 1199 contracts with different benefit packages.  It established averages for each category, and those are the averages against which HealthBridge center costs can be compared.

The study is available here.

 

HEALTHBRIDGE FILES EMERGENCY MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

DANBURY, Conn. – HealthBridge managed health care centers spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield today issued the following statement regarding an additional action taken by the company in connection with the December 11 order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut judge to grant the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 10(j) petition for injunctive relief in the case of members of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU striking against five Connecticut HealthBridge Centers:

“HealthBridge filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit late Thursday. The emergency motion seeks a temporary restraining order partially staying the U.S. District Court’s judgment pending further consideration by the Second Circuit.”

HEALTHBRIDGE FILES NOTICE OF APPEAL AND SEEKS TO STAY JUDGES’ ORDER

HealthBridge residents will be exposed to the very people who sought to do them harm as they went out on strike July 3

DANBURY, Conn. – HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield today issued the following statement regarding further actions taken by the company in connection with the December 11 order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut judge to grant the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 10(j) petition for injunctive relief in the case of members of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU striking against five Connecticut HealthBridge Centers:

“HealthBridge managed health care centers today filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  The centers separately filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut a motion to stay the implementation of the order.

“We are acting in the best interests of our residents.  Their well-being is paramount to us.

“We continue to believe the decision to grant injunctive relief unnecessarily short circuits the established venue – the ongoing NLRB trial – in which this issue should be resolved, and we continue to be confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.

“More importantly, implementation of an injunction returning the striking SEIU members to the workplace would expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm during the July 3 walkout.  The acts of criminality committed against our residents by some of those going out on strike on July placed our residents in serious jeopardy, and we find it unfathomable that these individuals would be returned to care for our residents before those responsible are identified and prosecuted.”

When the union walked out July 3 in a strike action, in three of the five affected Connecticut HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers multiple criminal acts of sabotage were committed against Center residents. Residents' wristbands were removed and discarded.  Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed. Stickers indicating how residents could safely be fed were removed. The names of residents in Alzheimer’s and memory care units were switched.  The perpetrators took these actions deliberately, with the clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper dosages of medications, or foods they should not eat.

Those criminal acts are the subject of an ongoing investigation by Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney.

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COURT GRANTS NLRB SECTION 10(j) RELIEF; IF IMPLEMENTED, WOULD EXPOSE RESIDENTS TO THOSE “WHO SOUGHT TO DO THEM HARM”

Union members who committed criminal acts should be identified and prosecuted, not reinstated

DANBURY, Conn. – HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield today issued the following statement in reaction to the decision by a U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut judge to grant the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 10(j) petition for injunctive relief in the case of members of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU striking against five Connecticut HealthBridge Centers:

“Naturally, we are disappointed in the judge’s decision. We will review the decision and weigh our options. We believe the decision to grant injunctive relief unnecessarily short circuits the established venue – the ongoing NLRB trial – in which this issue should be resolved, and we continue to be confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.

“As we stated at the outset, implementation of an injunction returning the striking SEIU members to the workplace could expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm during the July 3 walkout, and this threat to the continued good care of our residents greatly concerns us.

“We continue to firmly believe that the NLRB’s contention that the April 24, 2012 ‘last, best and final’ offers by the Centers constituted an unfair labor action is unwarranted and without merit, and constitutes a misuse of injunctive powers. Those offers were made after 17 months of negotiations repeatedly stalled by the union and included improved comprehensive contract offers that boost wage increases while reducing some of the concessions previously requested. They were offered in good faith with the intent of providing a path to stability and labor peace, and we are confident they were entirely lawful. Granting injunctive relief unnecessarily interferes with the existing NLBR legal process.”

She added: “We again note that in seeking the injunction the NLRB has not expressed any concern about the potential adverse impact its action would have on Center residents. Implementation of the NLRB injunction would reinstate SEIU members before the investigation into numerous criminal acts committed July 3 against our residents is completed and those responsible for those detestable acts are brought to justice.  Reinstatement of SEIU members who committed these acts would dangerously expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm during the July 3 walkout.”

When the union walked out July 3 in a strike action, in three of the five affected Connecticut HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers multiple criminal acts of sabotage were committed against Center residents. Residents' wristbands were removed and discarded.  Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed. Stickers indicating how residents could safely be fed were removed. The names of residents in Alzheimer’s and memory care units were switched.  The perpetrators took these actions deliberately, with the clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper dosages of medications, or foods they should not eat.

The acts of sabotage are the subject of a criminal investigation by Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney.

HealthBridge and CareOne Jointly File RICO Lawsuit Against United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU 1199 and New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199

Racketeering suit claims extortion and sabotage as part of pattern of illegal activity

FORT LEE, N.J. – HealthBridge Management LLC and CareOne Management LLC today filed a RICO lawsuit against two SEIU local affiliates that claims the defendants have been engaged in a long-term pattern of criminal sabotage, intimidation and other acts of extortion in a coordinated illegal campaign in which the affiliates have threatened to put the two companies out of business if they do not yield to the union’s demands.

The suit was filed in United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU 1199 and New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU. RICO is the acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.

In a joint press release, the two companies stressed that they have worked cooperatively with unions in the past and fully respect and embrace the collective bargaining process. They said the suit is not about collective bargaining or other traditional labor activity but instead involves what is effectively economic terrorism, and that the suit seeks to end the campaign of extortionate demands and myriad unlawful tactics used against the companies by the two affiliates.

The suit cites the criminal sabotage that occurred at three of the five Connecticut HealthBridge facilities against which one of the defendants went out on strike on July 3, 2012, previously addressed in releases including those here, and states that the acts of sabotage put the lives of the elderly and frail patients at direct and immediate risk.

Additionally, the suit cites numerous instances of personal attacks against one of the indirect owners of the two companies, Daniel E. Straus, that the suit says are designed to seek to intimidate him by invading his privacy, harassing him and impeding business and philanthropic activities of his that are totally unrelated to the two companies.

The suit refers repeatedly to the actions against the two companies that the suit says are taken directly from the SEIU’s “Campaign Contract Manual,” available here. The manual was made public as an outgrowth of the 2011 suit against the SEIU filed by Sodexo USA. The SEIU eventually settled the suit.

HealthBridge and CareOne are separate independent but affiliated companies that operate long-term nursing care and assisted living healthcare facilities for the elderly. HealthBridge manages 34 facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts; CareOne manages 17 facilities in New Jersey. Corporate offices for both companies are located in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

About the RICO Act:

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Statute (“RICO”) is a federal law providing for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts carried out as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise.  It was enacted in 1970 as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. The purpose of the RICO statute is "the elimination of the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce." S.Rep. No. 617, 91st Cong., 1st Sess. 76 (1969). However, the statute is sufficiently broad to encompass illegal activities relating to any enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

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HEALTHBRIDGE DENOUNCES "SLAM" NYU PROTEST

Calls on SEIU to end dismissive comments about the investigation of sabotage; tell the truth about its pension fund  

(DANBURY, CONN. – Sept.11, 2012)  HealthBridge Management denounced the SEIU-inspired protest rally held today at New York University that ignored a criminal investigation of acts of sabotage that endangered HealthBridge patients, and called on the New England Health Care SEIU 1199 to be honest with its membership about the state of its pension fund.

HealthBridge Management spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield said that today’s protest at NYU’s Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice was “just part of the crude tactics deployed by the SEIU to attempt to somehow embarrass or injure the reputation of company owners. What the SEIU should be doing is turning the spotlight on itself and its highly dismissive comments about the serious jeopardy some of our residents were placed in by acts of sabotage when the union went out on strike.”

She pointed out that today’s protest by a group which calls itself the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) was a tactic described in the SEIU’s “Contract Campaign Manual,” an action described in a document the SEIU was forced to produce in discovery in a 2011 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act case.

Crutchfield also said that, “Once more, we call on the SEIU to end its cavalier and dismissive attitude about the criminal acts of sabotage perpetrated against residents of three of our five Connecticut centers when SEIU members went out on strike on July 3. These actions placed our elderly, often feeble, residents in serious jeopardy, yet the union has consistently made dismissive comments about these criminal acts. It’s time for the SEIU to start examining itself and stop deploying the loathsome tactics described in its ‘Contract Campaign Manual.’”

Among the acts of sabotage that occurred as SEIU members went out on strike were that the wristbands of more than 30 of our residents were removed and discarded. Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed. Names of residents in Alzheimer’s and dementia units were switched. Medication records were altered. Stickers indicating how residents could be safely fed were removed. These actions were taken deliberately, with clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper medication dosage, or foods they should not eat.

Crutchfield also said, “The SEIU needs to fully lay out the facts about the soundness of the pension into which it unyieldingly claimed HealthBridge should be paying 8.5 percent of salaries with no employee contribution.” She was referring to a recent article that raised numerous questions about the funding levels of the SEIU pension fund.

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NLRB SECTION 10(j) PETITION “UNWARRANTED;” COULD EXPOSE RESIDENTS TO THOSE “WHO SOUGHT TO DO THEM HARM”

Union members who committed criminal acts should be

identified and prosecuted, not reinstated

(DANBURY, CT – Sept. 7, 2012)  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s filing of a Section 10(j) Petition for injunctive relief unnecessarily interferes with the existing NLRB legal process and, if successful, “could expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm during the July 3 walkout.”

Responding to notification that the NLRB has filed a Section 10(j) Petition before a federal district court judge seeking injunctive relief in the case of members of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU striking against five Connecticut HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers, Centers spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield said:

“The NLRB’s decision to seek injunctive relief and its contention that the April 24, 2012 ‘last, best and final’ offers by the Centers constituted an unfair labor action is unwarranted and without merit. Those offers were made after 15 months of negotiations repeatedly stalled by the union and included improved comprehensive contract offers that boost wage increases while reducing some of the concessions previously requested. They were offered in good faith with the intent of providing a path to stability and labor peace, and we are confident they were entirely lawful. Further, seeking injunctive relief unnecessarily interferes with the existing NLBR legal process. It short circuits the established venue in which this matter should be resolved.”

She added: “It’s also interesting to note that in seeking this course of action the NLRB has not expressed any concern about the potential adverse impact its action, if successful, could have on Center residents. The NLRB injunction seeks to reinstate SEIU members before the investigation into numerous criminal acts committed July 3 against our residents is completed and those responsible for those detestable acts are brought to justice.  The possibility that those SEIU members who committed these acts might be reinstated would dangerously expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm during the July 3 walkout.”

When the union walked out July 3 in a strike action, in three of the five affected Connecticut HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers union members committed multiple illegal and dangerous acts against Center residents. Residents' wristbands were removed and discarded.  Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed. Stickers indicating how residents could safely be fed were removed. The names of residents in memory care units were switched.  The perpetrators took these actions deliberately, with the clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper dosages of medications, or foods they should not eat.

Said Crutchfield, “From the beginning we have made it abundantly clear that the safety and care of our residents is our primary concern.  We cannot expose our residents to the risk of any harm at the hands of union members who were responsible for the despicable acts taken on July 3.”

As previously announced, we filed a formal complaint regarding these criminal actions with the Chief State’s Attorney on July 19, 2012. In that complaint, we pointed out the strong parallels with the strike-related sabotage against nursing homes during a 2001 strike by the same union and requested that a formal investigation be conducted.

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HEALTHBRIDGE MANAGEMENT WELCOMES OPENING OF NLRB TRIAL

Company looks forward to its day in court, clearing its name

(DANBURY, CONN. – Sept.7, 2012)  HealthBridge Management said today that it welcomes the Monday, Sept. 10 opening of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) trial on various misleading allegations about its 17 months of contract negotiations with the New England Health Care SEIU 1199.

“HealthBridge Management looks forward to having its day in court,” said HealthBridge spokesperson Lisa Crutchfield. “We especially look forward to clearing our name as we respond to the many misleading, irresponsible charges made against us by the union. We negotiated in good faith throughout the process, with the intent of providing a path to stability and labor peace, and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.”

The trial is set to begin at 1 p.m. Monday in Hartford, Conn., before an NLRB administrative law judge.

Crutchfield added, “While the trial is proceeding on those matters, we renew our call on the SEIU to end its cavalier and dismissive attitude about the criminal acts of sabotage perpetrated against residents of three of our five Connecticut centers when SEIU members went out on strike on July 3.

“The union has consistently made dismissive comments about t

hese criminal acts, even seeming to suggest that HealthBridge failed to report the acts of lengthy periods after they occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the SEIU knows it. Nonetheless, the union persists in making misleading comments filled with innuendo in vain attempts to pretend nothing happened. But the SEIU can’t wish this away, especially given the striking parallels between these 2012 acts of sabotage and the 2001 strike-related actions against nursing homes by the same union.”

In the 2001 case, The Hartford Courant reported that then-Chief State’s Attorney John M. Bailey concluded “in a damning report that many of the alleged incidents not only occurred but also were criminal.” The current sabotage is being invested by the office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

Commenting on the July 3, 2012, acts of sabotage, Crutchfield said, “In the hours leading up to the SEIU’s strike action, the wristbands of our elderly, sometimes frail, residents were removed and discarded. Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed. Names of residents in Alzheimer’s and dementia units were switched. Medication records were altered. Stickers indicating how residents could be safely fed were removed. These actions were taken deliberately, with clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper medication dosage, or foods they should not eat. These are abhorrent actions and the SEIU should cease its cavalier comments and treat this subject with the seriousness it deserves.”

HealthBridge Rejects Union’s Dismissive Attitude about Acts of Violence Perpetrated Against Center Residents

Union Needs to Treat Subject Seriously and Stop Cavalier Comments

HealthBridge Management today called on the New England Health Care Employee Union, District 1199 SEIU to end its dismissive attitude about the criminal acts of sabotage perpetrated against residents of three of the five Connecticut HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers when SEIU members went out on strike July 3.

Union spokespersons have consistently made dismissive comments about the sabotage, even seeming to suggest HealthBridge failed to report the acts for lengthy periods after they occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As you can see in the police reports, HealthBridge immediately reported these despicable acts – initially on July 2, the eve of the strike and then on July 3, the day the strike began. Soon thereafter we reported the sabotage to both the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the office of the state Attorney General.

This information has long been available to the union, yet it continues to make misleading comments filled with innuendo in vain attempts to create a smokescreen and mislead the public about these loathsome actions. We can appreciate the fact that the union wants to pretend nothing happened, but it can’t simply wish this situation away.

As we have stated previously, the Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney is investigating the outrageous, life-threatening criminal acts carried out as SEIU members went out on strike on July 3 – acts that included removing wrist bands from more than 30 residents, switching the names of Alzheimer’s and dementia unit residents, changing names on patient resident doors and wheelchairs as well as removing stickers indicating how residents can be fed safely.

The 2012 actions bear a striking resemblance to the 2001 strike-related actions against nursing homes by the same union. In the 2001 case, The Hartford Courant reported that then-Chief State’s Attorney John M. Bailey concluded “in a damning report that many of the alleged incidents not only occurred but also were criminal.”

We remind you that for a look at the national SEIU’s playbook calling for highly disruptive behavior in and around a strike you can go here. You will see that it references the SEIU’s tactics of sabotage and vandalism, cozying up to politicians, outside pressure, making contract negotiations costly and more – tactics all taken from the SEIU’s “Contract Campaign Manual,” a document the SEIU was forced to provide in a 2011 court case.

Bused-in Connecticut SEIU Strikers Trespass NJ Offices Prime Example of Pattern of Breaking the Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2012
Contact: Tim Hodges
(201) 242- 4034 or thodges@care-one.com

In the latest example of SEIU members breaking the law, approximately 16 striking SEIU members today trespassed the Fort Lee, NJ, CareOne corporate offices in connection with the ongoing SEIU strike against five Connecticut HealthBridge Health Care Centers. CareOne said it would seek to have trespassing charges lodged against the 16 and that it was assessing any damage to its offices.

“There is a strong pattern of SEIU members breaking the law,” said CareOne spokesman Tim Hodges. “SEIU members are currently the subject of a criminal investigation by the Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for the despicable actions carried out against Center residents on July 3, and today’s trespassing certainly fits the pattern.”

He added: “Today’s acts were those of hooligans who disgrace the sacrifices of legitimate labor by utilizing thug tactics, law breaking and victimizing innocent people. While legitimate labor prepares to celebrate Labor Day, they prepare for that day by trespassing on private property, abusing senior citizens and the infirm. CareOne calls upon New Jersey officials to follow the example of their Connecticut counterparts and begin criminal investigations.”

Today’s thuggish behavior is not surprising, given the despicable acts of some union members when they went out on strike in Connecticut on July 3.

In three of five HealthBridge centers there, criminal acts of sabotage were committed against our residents. This included removing wrist bands from more than 30 residents, switching the names of Alzheimer’s and dementia unit residents, changing names on patient resident doors, removing stickers indicating how residents can be fed safely and other actions that placed our residents in serious jeopardy.

This sort of disruptive behavior is taken directly from the national SEIU’s playbook that spells out steps for disruptive behavior in and around a strike. That playbook is available here.

These acts against residents, the subject of a criminal investigation, are very similar to actions the same union carried out in 2001. Back then, The Hartford Courant reported that the Chief State’s Attorney concluded “in a damning report that many of the alleged incidents not only occurred but also were criminal.”

The early afternoon NJ incident occurred while 75-100 strikers marched in front of a building housing CareOne’s corporate offices. Approximately 16 strikers entered the building and made it to the floor on which CareOne is located. Police were called and have identified most of the 16.

Earlier Thursday, witnesses in Connecticut saw multiple buses stopping at the sites of the five picket lines there and picking up striking SEIU members. It turned out that they were bound for Fort Lee and today’s demonstration and illegal actions.

The early July acts at the Connecticut Health Care Centers, and today’s acts of trespass are all in keeping with an out-of-control union – one that was intransigent throughout 17 months of negotiations. This is a union that thinks it’s realistic in today’s challenging economy to hold out for 8.5 percent contributions to the SEIU pension fund, with no employee contributions, and free health insurance.

Statement on Rep. Rosa DeLauro joining picket line

STATEMENT BY HEALTHBRIDGE MANAGEMENT SPOKESPERSON LISA CRUTCHFIELD ON U.S. REP. ROSA DELAURO JOINING SEIU PICKET LINE

It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has decided to choose sides in the ongoing strike against five Connecticut HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers – regrettable that she is lining up in favor of the SEIU monopoly and the nearly $65,000 its political action committee has contributed to her campaigns over the years.

Her decision is particularly regrettable because Rep. DeLauro has long styled herself as a champion of senior citizens.  It is hypocritical for her to pick the side of the SEIU, whose officials called on members, and members complied, to go out on strike and abandon senior citizen residents.  In siding with the SEIU Rep. DeLauro is choosing the Union over the best interests of senior citizens – abandoning senior citizens just as the SEIU abandoned Center residents.

We call on Rep. DeLauro to denounce the Union members who apparently broke the law by committing numerous acts of sabotage and vandalism when they went out on strike against five Connecticut HealthBridge Centers on July 3.  On that day, residents at three Centers were subjected to a wide range of detestable acts, including removing wrist bands from more than 30 residents, switching the names of residents in the memory care unit and changing names on patient resident doors and wheelchairs as well as removing stickers indicating how residents can be fed safely.  Rep. DeLauro should demand that the Union for which she has such an affinity commission an independent outside investigation to determine the full extent of Union leadership and member involvement in these despicable and immoral acts.

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Healthbridge calls on union to support investigation

July 25, 2012                                                                   

STATEMENT BY LISA CRUTCHFIELD REGARDING SEIU NRLB CHARGE

Spokesperson for HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers

The New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU has responded to the fact that HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers is seeking a full investigation of the numerous acts of sabotage and vandalism committed against some of our Center residents as SEIU members went out on strike by lodging a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing HealthBridge of committing an unfair labor practice.

That’s certainly a curious, and highly irresponsible, response to our call for a full investigation of criminal acts of vandalism and sabotage that occurred at three of our Connecticut Centers shortly before unionized employees began a strike on July 3, 2012. It’s also a diversionary ploy taken directly from the SEIU’s “Contract Campaign Manual”  which, beginning on page 3-21, calls for union members to seek maximum “Legal/Regulatory Pressure” on employers regardless of whether the pressure tactics have anything to do with the contract dispute in question.

The union should be doing everything in its power to help determine which union members engaged in illegal actions July 3 that could have caused serious medical consequences for Center residents. Instead, it has fired off dubious claims of an unfair labor practice.

We note as well that in the Union’s NRLB-related July 24, 2012, news release the SEIU touts a recent Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Decision favoring the SEIU that placed the interests of SEIU members over the interest of Center residents, but failed to note the fact that in that same decision the ALJ ruled against the Union on a more significant claim. When the collective bargaining agreements expired on March 16, 2011, the Centers – relying on current NLRB case law – stopped deducting union dues from the wages of union-represented employees and remitting those funds to the union. The SEIU contended that this was an unfair labor practice, arguing that the funds should continue to flow to the union. But the ALJ ruled that the Centers were acting legally.

The Centers will be appealing the ALJ decision that the Centers feel places the interests of the union over those of residents. In a July 24, 2012, statement the Centers said, “We abide by numerous federal and state statutes, and we will appeal the NLRB's requirement that union members be allowed to wear inappropriate stickers in the patient care areas of our facilities. An expert in geriatric health care testified that the stickers could be upsetting to some patients. HealthBridge has and will continue to put the well-being of our residents first.”

The July 3 acts against residents in three Centers are among the most serious violations listed in the state's Public Health Code – considered class A and B violations, on a scale of A to F with A being the most serious – and fall within the responsibility of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  The acts put some of Connecticut's most vulnerable residents in danger, and included criminal – and highly immoral – acts such as removing wrist bands from over 30 residents, changing names on patient doors and wheelchairs, switching the names of residents in the memory care unit, removing stickers indicating how residents can be fed safely, tampering with medication records and removing handles from lifts that safely transport residents to and from their beds. The perpetrators carried out various other acts such as hiding blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes as well as damage to facility property.

As we have made abundantly clear, the safety and care of our residents is our prime concern. We cannot expose our residents to the risk of any harm at the hands of the union members who were responsible for these illegal and despicable acts. 

In a July 19, 2012 letter to Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane, HealthBridge filed a formal complaint about the acts of sabotage and vandalism, which included criminal acts, and requested that he conduct a full investigation. In the letter, the attorney for HealthBridge also referenced the strong parallels between the 2012 acts and similar criminal acts in 2001 when the same District 1199 union was engaged in labor actions against several Connecticut nursing homes. The letter stated, “Based on the timing of the recent HealthBridge incidents and the striking similarities between those incidents and the illegal conduct uncovered in the 2001 investigation, HealthBridge believes that these actions are linked to the strike and that the perpetrators could have been connected with the union. HealthBridge hopes that the investigation will also examine this potential link and also whether the acts were in any way coordinated by the union.”

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AG chooses SEIU over patients

CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL CHOOSES SEIU OVER THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF NURSING HOME PATIENTS

Refuses to investigate strike-related sabotage

(DANBURY, CT - July 17, 2012)  In the hours leading up to the strike by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU (the Union) against five HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers in Connecticut, Union members engaged in multiple illegal and dangerous acts against Center residents.

Residents' wristbands were removed and discarded.  Names on patient doors and wheelchairs were changed.  Stickers indicating how residents could safely be fed were removed.  The names of residents in memory care units were switched.  The perpetrators took these actions deliberately, with the clear knowledge that they would put residents at severe risk of receiving the wrong medications, improper dosages of medications, or foods they should not eat.

These acts are among the most serious violations listed in the state's Public Health Code – considered class A and B violations, on a scale of A to F with A being the most serious – and fall within the responsibility of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  They put some of Connecticut's elderly and most vulnerable residents in danger, and occurred at several different Centers across the State.  They also bear more than a passing resemblance to strike-related sabotage against nursing homes during a strike by the same Union in 2001, during which the Hartford Courant reported that "equipment and sterile medical supplies had been tampered with, patient identification bracelets were removed, drugs were missing and a door to a supply room containing oxygen had been glued shut."

Yet, when the Centers went to Attorney General George Jepsen's office to file reports, they were turned away and told that they could file reports with local police.

"It is unfortunate enough that Attorney General Jepsen and Governor Malloy have chosen to take sides in this strike," commented Lisa Crutchfield, spokesperson for the HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers.  "We regret that both have given in to the SEIU monopoly, and that they have lent such public support to a Union that delayed and stalled for almost a year and a half in contract negotiations, then did not hesitate to tell its members to abandon residents in this work action.  But for the state's chief executive and chief law enforcement officer to spend time walking a picket line and giving media statements instead of instructing the Attorney General's office to investigate and prosecute criminals who put elderly residents at risk is, to quote the Governor, 'unacceptable.'"

The incidents in 2001 were investigated promptly and thoroughly by Chief State's Attorney John M. Bailey, who, said the Courant, went on to conclude "in a damning report that many of the alleged incidents not only occurred but also were criminal."

"The safety and care of our residents is our prime concern," added Crutchfield.  "We cannot expose our residents to the risk of any harm at the hands of the Union members who were responsible for these acts.  Until such time as the culprits are identified and prosecuted, unfortunately we will not be able to allow the striking employees to return to work.  The Chief State's Attorney should conduct a complete investigation of this criminal conduct.

"Since the Attorney General has compromised his impartiality in this matter, we also call upon the Governor to appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 for what appears to be their involvement in these serious incidents, given that the exact same conduct happened during the Union’s 2001 strike.  While some politicians do not take these depraved acts as seriously as we do, we will continue to focus on doing everything we can to ensure the safety and excellent care of the residents who call our Centers home."

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Strike weakens

STRIKE AGAINST HEALTH CARE CENTERS WEAKENS

More Employees Cross as Strike Enters Second Week

(DANBURY, CT - July 13, 2012)  Almost 450 new employees are already on the job at five affiliated Health Care Centers in Connecticut as permanent replacements for strikers who were called out by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 (the Union) on July 3, 2012.  Meanwhile, nearly 75 employees have chosen to cross picket lines and come to work to care for residents.

"We are extraordinarily grateful for the understanding of our residents, family members, and communities," said Lisa Crutchfield, spokesperson for the five affiliated Health Care Centers.  "We are also grateful for our managers, all of our new replacement employees, and all the employees who have crossed the picket line, all of whom are working very hard during the strike to provide resident care.  It takes a lot of courage to cross a picket line and come to work, even when you know it's the right thing to do."

Federal law allows an employer to permanently replace economic strikers.  After the strike ends, the permanent replacements get to keep their jobs and the striking employees they replaced are put on a preferential rehire list and are able to return to their jobs when there are future openings.  Federal law also protects the right of workers to choose for themselves whether or not to participate in a strike.

"The affiliated Health Care Centers have been overwhelmed with applicants for the permanent replacement positions," added Crutchfield.  "Clearly there are many qualified people in the community who are eager for jobs at the Centers and who find the terms of the 'Last, Best and Final' Proposals to be fair, reasonable, and even attractive."

The five affiliated Health Care Centers are Danbury Health Care Center, Long Ridge of Stamford, Newington Health Care Center, West River Health Care Center, and Westport Health Care Center.

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