Blumenthal asks labor board to fight for workers at Milford nursing home

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal this week urged the National Labor Relations Board to take action to preserve the pay and benefits of unionized HealthBridge nursing home employees following a bankruptcy court ruling that reduces their pay and eliminates pension and health benefits.

Last July, HealthBridge locked out union workers at five nursing home facilities in Connecticut, including West River Health Care Center in Milford, after the company and union failed to come to agreement on a new contract. After the workers were let back in, with promises of continued negotiations, HealthBridge imposed a new contract, at which point the workers went out on strike.

The federal District Court issued an injunction ordering HealthBridge to provide the same benefits and wages as set out in their previous labor agreement. HealthBridge challenged the NLRB’s findings that the company violated federal labor laws and appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a stay of the court order on wages and benefits.

The stay was denied in several courts.

“After exhausting all avenues to obtain a stay of the court order, including the U.S. Supreme Court, HealthBridge obtained a Bankruptcy Court order from a New Jersey judge, allowing HealthBridge to continue imposing for the next six weeks the same terms and conditions that led the workers to strike in the first place,” according to a press release from Blumenthal’s office.

In a letter to the NLRB, Blumenthal on Wednesday urged the NLRB to take action to preserve the benefits and compensation of HealthBridge employees.

“The District Court issued an injunction for a reason: this is a matter of urgency for these workers and their families,” Blumenthal said. “The employers should continue to fully comply with the District Court’s injunction and your office should ensure that the injunction continues to be fully enforced.”