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Spectrum Healthcare settles charges with NLRB and union, agrees to reinstate employees with backpay and sign collective bargaining agreement

A Connecticut nursing home operator has agreed to settle a National Labor Relations Board case involving multiple allegations of unlawful suspensions, discharges and unilateral changes by offering reinstatement and backpay to all discharged and striking workers and signing a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with its employees’ union, New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, SEIU.

The settlement, which was reached midway through a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge in Connecticut and approved by the judge yesterday, ends a long-running dispute which grew into a strike by almost 400 employees at four nursing homes in Connecticut operated by Spectrum Healthcare, LLC. Along with the contract and reinstatement of all employees, the company agreed to pay $545,000 in backpay and pension benefits to employees who were harmed by the unfair labor practices, and to expunge any disciplinary records related to the case. As a result, all NLRB charges against the company have been withdrawn. Spectrum admits to no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Complaints issued by the NLRB Regional Office in Hartford alleged that, beginning in the fall of 2009, several months after the prior collective bargaining agreement expired, Spectrum discharged seven employees and suspended three others to retaliate against their union activities and to discourage other employees from supporting the union. In addition, one employee was discharged and seven others were suspended after the employer unilaterally changed its tardiness discipline policy without first bargaining with the union.

The complaints further alleged that in April 2010, employees at the four nursing homes -- in Derby, Ansonia, Winsted, and Hartford -- went on strike to protest the unfair labor practices. When the strikers offered unconditionally to return to work in late August, the employer refused to take them back. Under federal labor law, if a strike is called because of an unfair labor practice, employees are entitled to reinstatement after an unconditional offer to return to work.

The reinstated employees are due to return to the facilities this week.

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