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SEIU amends complaint filed against nursing home operators

05.21.10

MAY 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

SEIU amends complaint filed against nursing home operators

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 30th- The complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Pennsylvania, North 2nd Street in Harrisburg, alleging an employer in Lackawanna County violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) is still pending and the agency is investigating the merit of the charge.

On March 19th, 2010, the Union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against the Lackawanna Healthcare Center, Sturges Road in Olyphant, alleging the Employer violated Section 8(a) and 5 of the NLRAct.

However, the newspaper has learned the Union has amended their complaint and instead of Union Organizer Carlos Rivera being the name that filed the ULP on behalf of the SEIU, the amended charge was filed by Attorney Bruce Ludwig of Philadelphia.

The Lackawanna Healthcare Center is a nursing home and is owned and operated by Millenium Management LLCof Miami Florida.

Lackawanna County owned and operated the facility until March 2010 when a sale was approved to Millenium Management for $13.4 million. Funds from the sale will be used to fill a projected hole in Lackawanna County’s 2010 budget.

Lackawanna County will use approximately $6 million of the sale to pay the outstanding dept and around $1 million will be used to pay employees accrued benefits including vacation days.

After the Lackawanna County Democratic Majority Commissioners, Corey O’Brien and Mike Washo announced their intention to sell the 272 bed facility in March 2009, bids were accepted to purchase the nursing home.

According to the complaint there are approximately 295 workers employed at the facility.

“Since or about March 1st, 2010, the above-named employer became the perfectly clear successor to the County of Lackawanna County with regard to this nursing home and assumed the existing collective bargaining agreement covering the bargaining unit. However, since that date, the employer has failed and refused to recognize the Union and to bargain collectively over terms and conditions of employment. In addition, the employer has refused to process grievances or provide information requested by the Union with respect to grievances and other collective bargaining matters. The employer has changed terms and conditions of employment without bargaining,” the amended ULP states, filed on March 26th.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania also represents nurses employed at the Mercy Hospital in Scranton and Geisinger Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre.

The NLRB told the newspaper the agency is investigating the complaint and if found the operator of the Lackawanna Healthcare Center violated the NLRAct a hearing will be scheduled.

Before Millenium took over the operation of the nursing home company officials stated the company would honor the terms and conditions of the bargaining agreement signed by the SEIU and Lackawanna County. However, according to the union, company officials have made unilateral changes to the bargaining agreement without meeting with them. Under the NLRAct, an employer must negotiate with a union before making changes regarding working conditions.

A.J. Munchak, Republican Minority Commissioner, told the newspaper he believes the labor situation will be worked-out. However, he stated union officials have not requested for him to get involved with the situation.

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