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The lockout at the West River Health Care Center in Milford, Connecticut continues, with HealthBridge Management still threatening to expand the lockout to its five other unionized nursing homes in Connecticut.

HealthBridge first refused to go to binding arbitration unless the union accepted a pension freeze before entering arbitration—the "surrender outright to one of our two big demands and maybe we'll talk about compromising on the other" strategy—and is now openly scoffing at an offer by union negotiators for workers to pay some health insurance costs, though not at the outrageous rate demanded by the company. "Union spokeswoman Julie Popper called it 'a huge concession and a sign of the union's willingness to bargain in good faith," but:

HealthBridge responded in a Dec. 28 statement that union negotiators are asking for their members' benefits to "remain exactly the same."

"When bargaining has been going on for more than 11 months, and their members at West River Health Care Center are locked out of their jobs, it is difficult to believe that the union considered this a significant offer," HealthBridge spokeswoman Lisa Crutchfield said in the statement.

So now, in the face of concessions by the workers, HealthBridge is insisting that no concessions have been made and basically saying "we're inflicting pain here, and we expect to get capitulation, not just compromise." Similarly, workers say they're concerned about company proposals on hours and work schedules, but HealthBridge denies that's even an area included in the bargaining.

We know how well capitulating to these kind of extreme demands typically works out. But hey, maybe if these workers just totally give in, Daniel Straus, the owner of HealthBridge's parent company, can burnish his philanthropist credentials some more by giving the added profit he squeezes out of them to another institute for the study of justice.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Dec 30, 2011 at 07:08 AM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Hippie and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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