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Judge grants injunction against HealthBridge

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday granted an injunction that will temporarily halt an employer's implementation of a new contract at five nursing homes in Connecticut, where about 600 workers have been out on strike since July.

The workers walked out on July 3 to protest what they said were labor concessions imposed by the company that owns the nursing homes, Parsippany, N.J.-based HealthBridge/Care One.

The union that represents workers at the nursing homes in Milford, Westport, Stamford, Danbury and Newington declared victory.

"This ruling is a decisive victory for workers and a sign that HealthBridge cannot get away with its unfair and illegal treatment of its employees" said David Pickus, president of the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU.

A spokeswoman for HealthBridge, Lisa Crutchfield, said it will review the decision and weigh its options.

"We believe the decision to grant injunctive relief unnecessarily short circuits the established venue — the ongoing NLRB trial — in which this issue should be resolved, and we continue to be confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter," she said.

The NLRB, which has accused the company of refusing to bargain in good faith with the union, filed the injunction asking for the striking workers to be allowed to return to work and that the company provide for back pay and bargaining, among other provisions. John Cotter, the officer in charge of the NLRB in Connecticut, said the board sought the injunction in part because its own processes were too cumbersome to achieve a remedy.

HealthBridge has said it was negotiating in good faith with the union "when it chose to abandon negotiations, jobs and our residents."

The workers won some high-profile support. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, joined the picket line in July at Newington Health Care Center and accused the company of taking "unfair actions" against employees.

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