In the midst of a workers’ scrap, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Alaris Health alleging that the company broke federal labor law during contract negotiations with its employees’ union, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
A trial before a federal administrative law judge is set for November 18.
Workers at four nursing homes held a series of three-day strikes during the week of September 15 to protest unfair labor practices by Alaris Health.
In its complaint, the Labor Board alleges that at its facility in Guttenberg, Alaris Health management illegally “threatened its employees with termination if they went on strike” and “interrogated its employees regarding when the Union and employees would strike.” In taking these actions, the NLRB alleges that Alaris “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the [National Labor Relations] Act.”
At all four nursing homes, the NLRB has also alleged that Alaris failed to provide the union with information which is “necessary for, and relevant to, the Union’s performance of its duties as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative” and that the company “failed and refused to bargain with the Union’s chosen collective-bargaining committee” which is composed of rank-and-file workers from each facility.
“The NLRB’s complaint is more evidence that Alaris Health has little regard for the rights of their hardworking employees,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “By obstructing caregivers’ legally-protected right to bargain over their working conditions, Alaris is not only jeopardizing workers’ livelihoods, but also the wellbeing of their patients who rely on the care of stable and experienced caregivers.”
The politicians who have occupied a front line on this issue sounded off.
“New Jersey cannot tolerate employers who disregard laws that protect the right of workers to speak out for better working conditions and fair wages,” said U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (D-8). “The Labor Board’s investigation into Alaris Health shows that if you break the law, you will face consequences. The right to form a union and to bargain collectively is a fundamental principle of our democracy.”
“It is unconscionable that Alaris Health, which relies primarily on taxpayer funding to stay in business, has attempted to prevent caregivers from seeking improvements to their jobs,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3). “The people who do back-breaking work caring for our loved ones in the last years of their lives deserve better.”
“Union City stands firm in its support for the dedicated men and women who care for our community’s elderly and vulnerable,” said Union City Mayor and Senator Brian Stack. “Alaris Health is not above the law and must immediately cease its unfair treatment of workers.”
1199SEIU is in the process of filing additional charges against Alaris Health after it unlawfully locked-out workers for participating in a legally-protected unfair labor practice strike in September. Currently, about two-dozen caregivers remain out of work.