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Did SEIU Strike-Related Sabotage Endanger Nursing Homes Residents In Connecticut?

Did militant members of the nation’s most notorious union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), sabotage nursing home residents and put Alzheimer’s patients’ lives in danger as they walked out on strike? While there are no suspects, police reports filed with the Danbury, Newington and Stamford, Connecticut, seem to suggest so, as there are distinct parallels to the sabotage that was committed when the SEIU engaged in a statewide nursing home strike in Connecticut in 2001.

For the last 17 months, a nursing home company, HealthBridge Management, has been locked in heated battle against the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 (a SEIU division).

After the SEIU refused to agree to a contract offer with some concessions in exchange for raises totaling 9 percent in the first year and 17 percent over the next six years, HealthBridge chose to exercise its legal right to implement its “last, best and final offer” in late June. As a result, the SEIU called its 700 members out on strike and abandoned the residents at five nursing homes HealthBridge operates on July 3rd.

In the hours leading up to and those after the SEIU members walked out on strike on July 3rd, reports were filed with the police departments in Danbury, Newington and Stamford that include such incidents as:

  • “…clean linens being thrown on the floor to more serious incidents whereby patients’ identification wrist bands were removed as well as patient identifiers on room doors and wheelchairs….[T]he persons involved are presumed to be employees who are part of a protest taking place outside against the Danbury Health Care Center.” [Source: Danbury Police Department Incident Report.]
  • “Also of note for disruptive behavior that occurred prior to the employee labor strike was: The name tags on patient’s doors for the Alzheimer’s ward were mixed up. The photos attached to the medical records for these patients were removed further complicating, but not making impossible the identification of the patients. Also dietary blue stickers affixed to the door name tags were removed. Again, there would be unrestricted, unsupervised access to the areas that that occurred.” [Source: Newington Police Department Crime/Incident Report]
  • In Stamford, the glass door to the industrial washing machine was shattered. In the officer’s comments, the following was noted: “Local 1199 of S.E.I.U. union is going on strike at 6:00 am on Tuesday 7/3/12 (may be related).” [Source: Stamford Police Department Incident Report]

While the SEIU may try to shrug these incidents off as mere coincidence, the fact that extraordinarily similar incidents occurred in 2001 during a SEIU nursing home strike across Connecticut may make the SEIU’s protestations ring hollow.

In 2001, during a one-day strike, incidents of strike-related sabotage targeting nursing home residents were so pervasive that the Connecticut’s 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.”

“There is no doubt while some of the acts in question are crimes of nuisance and mischief, others could have had an effect resulting in seriously jeopardizing the [nursing home] residents’ health and safety,” the prosecutor’s report said.

Mr. Bailey’s investigators looked at evidence and information reported by 10 homes and found 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.

During the 2001 strike, according to one report, the SEIU stopped short of denying the allegations that involved even potentially deadly sabotage:

Although stopping short of saying that the allegations had no merit, workers at a union press conference said they were stunned by charges that in the hours before a one-day strike on March 20, patient ID bracelets and “Do Not Resuscitate” stickers were removed, diabetics were given chocolate and some residents were told they’d be killed or poisoned by replacement workers.

SEIU boss Jerry Brown later called the investigation a “witch hunt.”

This past Wednesday, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor, Dannel Malloy unsurprisingly showed up on the SEIU’s picket lines voicing support for the union.

The Democrat joined the picket line at Newington Health Care Center, which is owned by Parsippany, N.J.-based HealthBridge/Care One. Malloy said it’s clear the company has taken “unfair actions” against employees, citing last week’s federal complaint against the company issued by the National Labor Relations Board.

“These types of tactics are unacceptable,” he said. “They negatively impact the lives of the residents who live in these nursing homes and the residents’ families because the continuum of care gets interrupted.”

Apparently, in the mind of Governor Malloy, the removal of name tags or photos from Alzheimer’s  patients does not negatively affect residents or their families.

Malloy’s support for the SEIU is not at all surprising given his partnership with the SEIU in unionizing the state’s daycare providers and personal care attendants.

As the police reports were filed ten days before the Governor Malloy’s visit to the SEIU picket line at one of the nursing homes where the sabotage occurred, it appears that Malloy won’t be undertaking any investigation like the one that occurred under Republican Governor John Rowland in 2001.

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“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com

Emphasis added throughout.

Photo credit: d3b…*

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