Connecticut Employment Law Blog Insight on Labor & Employment Developments for Connecticut Businesses

Federal Judge Orders Reinstatement of Workers and New Bargaining with Union

Posted in Labor Law & NRLB

The headlines this week have already written the obituaries for unions, at least in Michigan, where the state passed a new “right to work” law.

But here in Connecticut, unions may be weakened, but, when bolstered by the NLRB, they can still put a fight. A new federal court case in Connecticut this week handed one of the most powerful unions in the state — SEIU District 1199 — a sizable victory in the union’s battle with six local nursing homes.  You can download the Court’s decision here.  

The NLRB was quick to tout the victory in a press release:

A federal judge has ordered a Connecticut nursing home chain to offer reinstatement to approximately 600-700 workers, to rescind changes made to employee wages and benefits, and to bargain in good faith with the union that has long represented its employees.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny granted the injunction against Healthbridge Management, LLC, at the request of the NLRB Regional Director Jonathan Kreisberg, who has authorized four complaints against the employer alleging a series of unlawful actions at six nursing homes over more than two years. The employees are represented by District 1199 of the New England Health Care Employees Union, SEIU.

The petition seeking the injunction alleged that after 19 months of bargaining, in June 2012, the company unilaterally implemented contract proposals affecting wages, hours, benefit eligibility, and retirement and health benefits without first bargaining to a good faith impasse. Employees went on an unfair labor practice strike in protest. In mid-July, the employees through their union offered to return to work under the terms of the contract that existed prior to the unilateral implementation, but the employer refused to bring them back.

The Hartford Courant has a good recap of the entire debate here as well.

For employers in the state, unions remain a force to address.  As this case shows, losing a battle could be more than just a couple of bucks.