Nursing home operator HealthBridge Management LLC’s request for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to intervene in a dispute with the National Labor Relations Board has been denied, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.
The company’ request was based on a recent federal ruling against President Obama’s “recess” appointments to the labor board. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found three of those appointments to be unconstitutional, ruling that the president violated the Constitution when he sidestepped Senate confirmation. The president’s recess appointments may soon be under further review before the high court, says the WSJ.
However, Justice Ginsburg’s denial of HealthBridge’s request suggests the Supreme Court won’t likely hear new challenges to individual NLRB decisions before addressing the broader constitutional issues related to the recess appointments, the article continues.
HealthBridge operates five unionized nursing homes in Connecticut and is seeking an emergency reprieve from a federal judge’s order that the company reinstate hundreds of former workers who have been on strike for months.
The saga began in early 2011, when the nursing home operator and its employees failed to reach an agreement when negotiating terms of the workers’ contracts. In December, HealthBridge locked about 100 workers out of its Milford nursing facility.
Workers belonging to District 1199 of the New England Health Care Employees Union (a division of the Service Employees International Union) didn’t agree to HealthBridge’s new contracts, which included changes such as asking employees to pay more for their health insurance and switch to a lesser 401(k) plan.
By July 3, hundreds of nurses, nursing assistants, and other nursing home workers from five HealthBridge-operated facilities began striking after the company imposed its new contract requirements on its employees despite a lack of agreement.
HealthBridge countered by filing a lawsuit against the union and an affiliate union, claiming violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO)—a federal law usually employed to fight the mob. The nursing home company said the unions’ actions amounted to “economic terrorism” as union works had “abandoned traditional organizing methods and contract negations in favor of extortion another criminal and fraudulent tactics,” and sought compensatory and punitive damages.
In December 2012, HealthBridge was “disappointed” by a court-order to reinstate the workers, according to a company spokeswoman who said it could “expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm,” based on accusations that workers tried to sabotage the company by changing the names on some patents’ doors and wheelchairs, or switching names of residents in memory care units.
The drama’s not over yet: HealthBridge plans to draft another application for an emergency reprieve of the court order, directed to Justice Antonin Scalia this time, it said in a statement.
Written by Alyssa Gerace
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