17 August 2012

The Business Behind the Strikes at the Nursing Homes

The NYU School of Law’s Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice has a mission “to merge premier academic and intellectual conditions with community integration and a sense of public service.” Annually endowed with $1.25 million from Daniel E. Straus, a trustee at the law school, the institute is defined by an “international, multicultural, interdisciplinary, and community-minded approach.”

But over the past year, Straus has seemingly failed to live up to the mission of his own institute. His company HealthBridge Management, which owns nursing homes in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, refuses to bargain in good faith with workers at its Connecticut facilities and, while Straus is accused of violating labor laws, his employees are walking the picket line.
NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), noting the irony in the contradiction between Straus’ actions and the title of his namesake institute, is organizing a campaign against the trustee. In the last year, the group of student activists has held protests, teach-ins, and film screenings, working closely with SEIU 1199 NE, which represents HealthBridge’s employees, to bring awareness of this complex situation to the NYU community.
On June 17, HealthBridge announced that it would no longer negotiate with the union, choosing to instead impose its own contract on the workers. The proposed contract, which increased health care costs, froze the workers’ retirement plan, and offered fewer working hours, prompted the caregivers to vote twenty-five-to-one to send the company a strike notice on June 21. Since July 3, approximately six hundred caregivers at five HealthBridge facilities have been on strike.

On July 6, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a formal complaint against HealthBridge—its fifth against Straus’ company. In the fourteen-page document, the NLRB admonishes HealthBridge’s “pattern of bad faith bargaining,” citing the company’s refusal to negotiate with the union, illegal firings of workers, and threats to close facilities and lock out employees.

Read the entire article. It goes on to explain how NYU Law School students are responding. Click here.

No comments: