When a representative of the Service Employees International Union, AFTCIO, said the Cantabrigia Nursing Home has "had a rough history in the recent past," he wasn't kidding.
The Prospect St. center's problems began last year, according to the union's Joseph A. Twarog, when the Department of Public Health cited it for several violations. During the summer, the home went bankrupt and was supervised by a court appointed receive until a new owner, Joseph G. Pallotta, bought it.
The union's problems began last December, when after untidily recognizing the local, he began "playing hardball," said Twarog.
Upset with changes made by Pallotta, workers have filed charges of until labor practices with the National I about Relations Board (NI RB), where they will present their case this April, unless Pallotta accepts their demands before then.
Welling His Feet
Pallotta told the union he needed three months to organize his affairs before negotiating a new contract.
"That nursing home was sineled out to be the worst in the state it is very reasonable for a new owner to have three months to get his feet wet," he said last week.
But workers have said the did tore than postpone negotiations. Twarog said Pallotta did not recognize the union and refused to let it distribute leaders and post information at the home. Pallotta also refused to honor the vacation time and the sick leave which employees had accumulated before he took over. He said that since the union's contract expired in April of 1984, there was "no contract in force."
The union charged that he violated the law on two counts. By not recognizance the union and by taking away accumulated benefits. "If a new owner runs the same business with the same employees, he must continue to recognize the union," said Jonathan T. Hiatt '70, attorney for Local 285.
Hiatt added that even though the union's contract had run out, an employer cannot change a union's wages and benefits without entering collective bargaining.
The union, which organizers said, represents the majority of the nursing home's employees, filed charges of unfair labor practice with the NI RB in December, and after an investigation. Hiatt said that the board found probable cause and issued a complaint. An administrative law judge will hear the case on April 11.
NI RB officials could not be reached for comment.
Pallotta said his actions were necessary to get the nursing home back on its feet after the code violations and the bankruptcy. Pallotta operates another Cambridge nursing home which he said is in good standing.
Pallotta said he met with employees last week and told them he would recognize the vacation time they had accumulated since he took over in December, but not the time they claimed to have caned before then.
But Twarog said the union wants the owner to do more than recognize the union. "We want him to obey the law restore benefits, and negotiate a contract."