Striking nursing home employees return to work in Connecticut, but conflict continues

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About 600 nursing home workers in Connecticut will return to their jobs after an eight-month strike, but they still haven't resolved their differences with operator HealthBridge Management.

The workers went on strike to protest what they described as an unacceptable “last, best and final” contract offer from HealthBridge after a year of negotiations. The employees will head back to work March 3 under the terms and conditions of their preexisting contract. A new contract will have to be negotiated.

HealthBridge sought to delay the workers' return under their previous contract, as ordered by a U.S. District Court judge. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg earlier this month said the company must abide by the order to reinstate.  

The workers' union — New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU — says the return to work is a “major victory.” However, there is still much rancor between the workers and HealthBridge. The nursing home company said some workers endangered resident safety before going on strike. The National Labor Relations Board is currently considering the workers' charges that HealthBridge violated labor laws.

Given that the NLRB case could stretch on for a long time, and HealthBridge has not exhausted its legal options to defend its actions, the workers' return may not soothe long-term care stakeholders who worry the situation casts a negative light on operators and workers alike.

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