Published July 31, 2012
A Connecticut congresswoman has joined with Service Employees International Union members in a contract dispute with a retirement home company that claims the unionized workers sabotaged patient records and committed other acts of vandalism during a walkout this month.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro is among several Democratic lawmakers who have sided with workers from a chapter of the SEIU, the largest health care union in North America with roughly 1.1 million members.
The strike occurred July 3 after roughly 18 months of contract negotiations with HealthBridge Management over such issues as pay, medical insurance and retirement plans.
“It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has decided to choose sides in the ongoing strike … regrettable that she is lining up in favor of the SEIU monopoly.”
SEIU has contributed nearly $65,000 to election campaigns for DeLauro, who joined Congress in 1991, according the website OpenSecrets.org.
HealthBridge officials have said the incidents occurred at five of its senior centers and included a wide range of “detestable” and “immoral” acts, such as removing wrist bands from more than 30 residents and switching the names of residents in the memory care unit.
None of the three Connecticut police departments that took the complaints – Danbury, Newington and Stanford – could confirm Tuesday for FoxNews.com that a criminal investigation will follow.
HealthBridge also filed a complaint with the Chief State’s Attorney's Office, but that agency also could not confirm whether it has launched or will launch an investigation.
SEIU has denied involvement. However, HealthBridge is asking DeLauro to demand SEIU commission an independent, outside investigation to determine whether union leadership and members were involved.
HealthBridge argues that cuts were necessary as a result of a “very difficult” economic situation that includes increased competition in senior care and big cuts in Medicare.
“I guess they [HealthBridge] figure they can hold out forever," DeLauro told a crowd of striking workers Monday. "They don’t know how tough we are.”
Top Connecticut Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Daniel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen, also have thrown their support behind the union in the protracted labor talks, with Malloy and Jepsen joining picket lines.
Company executives said Jepsen originally rejected their request for an investigation, saying they should instead call the local police. Jepsen has since recused himself from the investigation, and the complaint has been filed with Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane.
Pinpointing the individuals involved is unlikely because the facilities do not have video cameras, in part because they would violate federal patient privacy laws.