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.
According to FoxNews.com, the incidents occurred in five of the company’s nursing homes in the overnight hours before the July 3 strike, and the incidents are similar to those that occurred in 2001 at several New England nursing homes that were represented by the SEIU.
Before the union decided to strike, David Pickus, the president of the chapter, spoke about how inhumane HealthBridge officials were.
“By their outrageous, inhumane and unlawful actions, HealthBridge has given workers no other alternative,” Pickus said after the vote to strike, according to FoxNews.com. “This is yet another instance of the wealthy 1 percent waging war on the 99 percent of us who work for a living.”
Pickus has not commented on the inhumane war his union members may have waged against defenseless seniors with Alzheimer’s by endangering them just so they could get more leverage at the negotiating table or show their frustration at HealthBridge.
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.”
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.
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.
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.