RICO suit filed against nursing home workers unions

HealthBridge Management and affiliate CareOne Management have filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) against the New England Health Care Employees Union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), District 1199, and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the latter of which is seeking to represent workers at three of 29 New Jersey nursing home facilities run by CareOne and HealthBridge.

The suit accuses the union of “intimidation, interference, threats, deceptive trade practices abuse of process, vandalism and other illegal and extortionate conduct,” reports the Stamford Advocate.

In Connecticut, 600 workers have been on strike at five HealthBridge nursing homes since contract negotiations broke down in early July. HealthBridge and the union had locked horns before the strike. Last year, employees were locked out of a West River, N.J., nursing home for three months during a management dispute.

Among the allegations of sabotage, HealthBridge claims that at a number of sites residents' name bands were removed, names on doors were switched and medical records were tampered with. The suit also alleges that the unions made false claims online that the company ‘staged’ vicious acts against the elderly.

In another report, union spokesperson Amanda Torres-Price noted that National Labor Relations Board continues to back the unions’ claims of unfair labor practices.

Fordham University Law Professor James Brudney said in a media statement, “As a general proposition, the notion that hard bargaining or political pressure or appeals to agencies or courts is extortion is simply a loser—or should be.”  He adds that some of these cases are dismissed the first time they come before a judge.

HealthBridge and CareOne, both headquartered in Fort Lee, N.J., operate nursing homes in the Northeast. In Connecticut, the nursing homes involved are run only by HealthBridge.

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