By ERNIE GOTTA
HARTFORD, Conn.—As of Aug. 1, nearly 700 SEIU 1199 workers are on strike at various nursing homes in Connecticut due to the unfair labor practices of HealthBridge Management. HealthBridge is owned by the Straus brothers of New Jersey, who report annual profits of $45.5 million dollars.
The National Labor Relations Board issued a formal complaint against HealthBridge on July 6, stating that the company had “failed and refused to bargain in good faith” with its workers. Healthbridge attempted to divert their dirty dealings by claiming that nurses and housekeepers had committed acts of sabotage at the outset of the strike, which harmed patients. These lies are exposed each day as family members of the patients wave, smile, and honk their car horns in support of the striking workers.
Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy, who is working to bust up Connecticut public sector unions, ironically said, “What HealthBridge is attempting to do illegally is to break the union.” Malloy’s statement leaves one to believe that if the company took legal measures to break the union it would be fine with him.
Malloy has consistently acted as the quiet torch bearer of austerity in comparison to the slash-and-burn policies of Gov. Walker in Wisconsin. Malloy is pushing an increasing number of social services toward privatization, attempting to break public-sector unions, and legislate the dismantling of public education.
Whatever the obstacles bosses or politicians may throw in their way, the rank-and-file workers are enthusiastic and up to the challenge. Solidarity from the community and other unions will be a key element of sustaining this strike.
Socialist Action is in full support of the Healthbridge workers’ fight to save their pensions, health care, jobs, and union. We urge Connecticut workers and unions to show their solidarity by joining the picket lines.