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Beverly as the oldest and best established company has led the way in cost cutting and downsizing staff. As a consequence it has a long history both of understaffing and of allegations of neglect and substandard care. Beverly's response is to deny the allegations indignantly and to respond very aggressively to the unions whom it considers self interested. It has breeched labour laws on numerous occasions. Understandably there is not much love lost on either side.
Note the angry allegations made by the union representative and the corporate response in the first few reports. Examine the articles which follow. They report the federal "cease and desist" order against Beverly for 240 violations of labour laws when dealing with the unions.
COMMENT:- The first article reports similar legal actions by several corporate groups. I have only included Beverly extracts here.
SUING THE MESSENGER: UNION REPS WHO
DELIVER BAD NEWS MAY FACE LEGAL ACTION
Modern Healthcare April 27, 1998 Page 22 News
J. Duncan Moore Jr.
Healthcare organizations that don't like the bad publicity they're getting have found a way to combat it: They're suing.
And sometimes the defendants in those lawsuits are union representatives for the company's own employees-workers who have complained about poor quality of care.
In Pennsylvania, Beverly Enterprises sued the local president of the Service Employees International Union. The suit accused Rosemary Trump of defaming Donald Dotson, the former head of the National Labor Relations Board and now a Beverly executive, in a one-on-one confrontation. Beverly also said Trump slandered the company in remarks she made at an informal town hall meeting called by five members of Congress on May 15, 1997, in Pittsburgh.
And in New York, Beverly is suing the director of labor education research at Cornell University, who testified at the same public hearing as Trump. Kate Bronfenbrenner reportedly called Beverly "one of the nation's most notorious labor law violators." That remark and others, Beverly contended, constituted libel and slander.
Taken together, these cases represent attempts by healthcare employers to gag workers who try to speak out for quality of care, labor leaders said. If workers are intimidated, they are less likely to sound the alarm when standards of care drop below acceptable levels, the unions warned.
The California Nurses Association, an outspoken advocate for the role of bedside caregivers as protectors of public safety, said it isn't surprised by such lawsuits.
"We've raised these concerns frequently," said Chuck Idelson, CNA spokesman. "These suits are intended to have a chilling effect, and they do. We have experience with that. This kind of intimidation occurs all the time. We believe the public has a right to hear from the providers of care if there are problems with safety."
In its lawsuits, Beverly argued that the defamatory comments were not protected by legislative immunity because the Pittsburgh meeting wasn't a real congressional hearing. Under the doctrine of legislative immunity, people cannot be sued for defamation for comments made for the benefit of Congress.
Jim Griffith, Beverly's senior vice president for corporate communications at its Fort Smith, Ark., headquarters, was unavailable for comment.
The suit against Trump was thrown out March 5 by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster of the western district of Pennsylvania. He ruled that the meeting was indeed covered by legislative immunity, that Trump's remarks to Dotson were made in anger and that no reasonable person would take them literally.
The American Nurses Association said it is not aware of any defamation lawsuits against its member nurses but has drafted a federal whistleblower protection law to protect nurses who speak out for patient care.
However, the American Hospital Association and other provider groups are working against this bill and others that would protect hospital workers from employer retaliation if they spoke out about quality problems.
The Bronfenbrenner lawsuit is unlike any known to the general counsel's office at Cornell University or to the American Association of University Professors. "We see this case as an outrageous assault on academic freedom and an effort to intimidate and threaten academic scholars in pursuit of their research," said Wendy Tarlow, assistant university counsel in Ithaca, N.Y.
Not only is the university paying for Bronfenbrenner's defense, but 500 academicians across the country have signed a petition protesting Beverly's action.
Most offensive to the university, the Beverly lawsuit includes an exhaustive request for documents covering Bronfenbrenner's research notes, publications, phone bills, communications with labor organizers, job applications and university policies.
The pursuit of this confidential information "has great ramifications for scholars and people who might be the source of that information, which in this case is labor organizers," Tarlow said. "Academics don't have the same protection that journalists do to protect their sources. There's very little recognized in the law."
"If the hospitals are starting to threaten libel actions for truth-telling by employees, it means we're getting into the late phases of the war," said Michael Rie, M.D., an outspoken defender of patient-care standards at the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington. "It means hospitals are about to fall from public grace."
COMMENT:- Part of the strategy is to push up the costs. The company can afford to pay more than the unions. These law suits are called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). They are employed commonly in the USA and increasingly in Australia. The huge costs scare individuals. Their lawyers seldom guarantee successful defence and costs are seldom completely recovered. Tenet/NME spent over A $62,000 in legal expenses in just one of the two court actions they took against me, an action, which would have been abandoned if I made retractions.
US AIRWAYS CAN'T POP THE CORKS YET
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 10, 1999,
The National Labor Relations Board wants Beverly Enterprises, the nursing home chain, to pay the legal bills of a Pittsburgh labor leader it has sued for defamation.
Beverly sued Trump and the union. A federal district court last March granted a motion to dismiss, but Beverly and Dodson appealed. A panel of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal, and on July 30 a motion for a rehearing by the full court was denied.
The NLRB alleges the lawsuit against Trump was filed and maintained by Beverly and Dodson in retaliation for the union's ongoing yet lawful labor dispute with the nursing home chain. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15.
From Beverly's point of view, the NLRB action is premature. A spokesman said the company is preparing another appeal, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court. That will surely boost the union's legal fees, which hit $ 92,000 this August.
THIRD CIRCUIT; TORTS
Pennsylvania Law Weekly - - - - July, 26 1999
Defamation * Slander Per Se * Criminal Conduct * Defamatory Meaning * Special Damages
Beverly Enterprises, Inc. v. Trump, PICS Case No. 99-1318 (3d Cir. June 28, 1999) Stapleton, J. (6 pages).
Plaintiffs' defamation action warranted dismissal where defendants' statements were not capable of a defamatory meaning and where plaintiffs failed to allege special damages. Affirmed.Plaintiff Beverly Enterprises, Inc. is a national provider of nursing-home care.
Trump had twice slandered plaintiffs. At a political rally, Trump allegedly called defendants "criminals," accused them of anti-Semitism and berated Dotson for "union-busting." At a town hall meeting, Trump allegedly accused Dotson of criminal violations of the Ethics in Government Act, i.e., negotiating for employment with Beverly while chair of the NLRB and representing Beverly in matters that were pending before the NLRB during his chairmanship.
The district court dismissed the complaint after finding that the statements at the political rally were incapable of a defamatory meaning, and that an absolute testimonial immunity protected the statements made at the town hall meeting because the meeting constituted a "legislative proceeding."
Plaintiffs appealed. The Third Circuit agreed that Trump's statements at the political rally were not tortious because a reasonable listener could not find them capable of a defamatory meaning.
NURSING HOME FIRM FACES MORE PROBLEMS; THE
OWNER OF A WINTER PARK UNIT THAT MUST BE SOLD IS ALSO UNDER FEDERAL
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL October 29, 1998
In a separate dispute in August, the National Labor Relations Board cited 106 instances of anti-union activity by the company at 26 facilities in 15 states.
Beverly called the findings "fundamentally flawed and obviously biased" and is appealing.
J&L RULING CELEBRATED
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 1, 2000
Judge hits Beverly
An administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board has found Beverly Enterprises violated labor law by threatening applicants and employees with job loss if they participated in a 1995 strike at nursing home facilities in Pennsylvania. Judge Irwin H. Socoloff, in a decision dated March 23, also found Beverly illegally discharged 14 employees because of union activity and reduced the hours of others
CIRCUIT COURT APPROVES NLRB CORPORATE-WIDE
ORDER AGAINST NURSING HOME CHAIN (BEVERLY)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (R-2405) Friday, September 15, 2000 202/273-1991 www.nlrb.gov
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has approved a corporate-wide, cease-and-desist order by the National Labor Relations Board against Beverly California Corp. The decision, issued on September 13, is the culmination of two Board proceedings consolidating numerous unfair labor practices committed at Beverly facilities around the country that have been litigated since 1987.
Under the corporate-wide order, Beverly is required to post a remedial notice at all of its facilities. The Board will have authority to prosecute future unfair labor practices committed at any Beverly facility as contempt of the Court's order -- and not simply as additional unfair labor practices.
The Court's decision imposes broad remedial provisions on Beverly and all of its more than 600 nursing homes. The decision also enforces over 100 unfair labor practice findings, chronicled in the Board's Beverly II and Beverly III decisions, issued in 1998.
The Board had sought such relief against Beverly in an earlier case, Beverly I. In that case, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that numerous unfair labor practices at individual facilities did not demonstrate a corporate proclivity to violate the Act. In Beverly II and III, the Board made specific findings concerning Beverly's corporate control of labor relations and the involvement of corporate personnel in the commission of unfair labor practices. The Seventh Circuit, after reviewing those findings and Beverly's past conduct, determined that corporate-wide was now justified:
"The Board was entitled to conclude that the time was past for piecemeal relief [and] that nothing less than a corporate-wide order would do the job of correcting the proclivity this company has shown for committing or tolerating unfair labor practices at a significant number of its facilities," the Court ruled. The case was remanded to the Board to prepare appropriate orders and remedial notices to be posted at Beverly facilities.
NLRB General Counsel Leonard R. Page hailed the Court's decision: "We are extremely pleased that the Court has accepted the Board's position that broad, nationwide remedial orders are appropriate where large employers with many facilities engage in a pattern of repeated lawbreaking. My hat is off to the staffs of NLRB Region 6 and the Enforcement Division for their fine work over many years to bring about this result."
The three Beverly cases reviewed by the courts involved violations of the National Labor Relations Act at 53 Beverly facilities litigated over a period of 14 years. All of the cases were consolidated in the Board's Pittsburgh Regional Office (Region 6). Regional Director Gerald Kobell stated:
"This decision is an important victory for the Board. We were able to show that Beverly was continuing its unlawful conduct on a large scale and at a corporate level. Hopefully, this order will put an end to further violations. I want to commend the excellent work my staff and those employees at other regions where these cases were investigated and tried."
BEAVER NURSES VOTE TO JOIN SEIU UNIT
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 24, 2000,
*Court backs NLRB
A federal appeals court is supporting the National Labor Relations Board corporate-wide order directing Beverly Enterprises to end anti-union conduct.
"We were able to show that Beverly was continuing its unlawful conduct on a large scale and at a corporate level," said Kobell, whose office handled the consolidated cases. "Hopefully, this order will put an end to further violations."
CLICK HERE for Beverly's response to the labour law violations
COMMENT:- The next article is an excellent wide ranging study of corporate behaviour based on Beverly's activities. The complete article is on another page.
THE SHAME OF OUR NURSING HOMES; nursing
homes allegedly treat patients poorly :: Millions for investors,
misery for the elderly
The Nation March 29, 1999
Last August the National Labor Relations Board issued an unusual corporationwide "cease and desist" order against the company for 240 violations of labor laws in eighteen states, including threats, coercion and surveillance of employees. A study of federal contractors by the GAO ranked Beverly among the fifteen worst violators of federal labor laws.
It is alleged that nursing homes in the USA not only understaffed but deskilled. Nurse aids were employed regardless of their suitability and many had a criminal history of violent crime. They were given minimal training prior to having to undertake responsibility and training way beyond their abilities. Corporate chains cut benefits and perks when they purchased homes so alienating staff. It seems that they paid as little attention to the welfare of their nurses as they did to their patients. Morale was consequently very low.
COMMENT:- Workplace injuries in Beverly's homes were one of the highest in US workplaces - not just in nursing homes.
More than 1,100 Pa. companies get safety
The Associated Press State & Local Wire May 3, 1999
Government safety watchdogs have begun paying special attention to workplaces with above-average rates of injury and illness.
Pennsylvania companies received the highest number of letters asking them to make job sites safer. Of the nearly 12,500 employers sent letters nationwide, 1103 were in Pennsylvania.
Nationwide, the largest number of those
notices went to nursing homes,trucking companies and warehouses -
places where jobs require some heavy lifting. In Pennsylvania,
plastics factories also received a large number of notices.
There were 186 notices sent to skilled nursing care facilities in Pennsylvania and 39 to miscellaneous nursing and personal care employers. Beverly Enterprises Inc., an Arkansas-based nursing home chain, got 20 notices in Pennsylvania, the most in the state.
"It surprises a lot of people that nursing home work is one of the most dangerous occupations in America - more dangerous than working in a coal mine or a steel mill," said Andrew L. Stern, president of Service Employees International Union.
COMMENT:- The next article briefly covers the same material.
Gov't Scrutinizes Risky Workplaces
AP Online May 10, 1999
OSHA's new inspection program targets
Gannett News Service July 28, 1999, Wednesday
WASHINGTON -- The federal agency that
inspects workplaces for safety and health violations says nearly
one-fourth of the 17,000 site visits it will make in the coming year
will be based on lost workday information provided by individual
Despite the court ruling, OSHA has published a list of the 12,500 employers on the Internet because their information is based on raw data supplied by the companies regarding lost workdays. It is based on raw data. The employers appearing the most often: Memphis, Tenn.-based Federal Express; United Parcel Service; and the nursing home chain Beverly Enterprises of Fort Smith, Ark. Each is cited for having at least seven lost workdays per 100 employees, at more than 100 work sites.
COMMENT:- The next reference is to a government's press release. This dispute is reported more fully in the Associated Press article which follows.
Beverly Enterprises Ordered to Provide
Labor Dept. Access to Corporate Headquarters
U.S. Newswire September 09, 1999
CONTACT: Sherrie Moran of the U.S. Department of Labor, 202-693-4669;
Beverly Enterprises ordered to open
The Associated Press State & Local Wire September 9, 1999, Thursday, AM cycle
The nation's largest nursing home operator has been ordered to open its corporate headquarters for review by federal Labor Department officials, the department said Thursday.
If Beverly Enterprises Inc. refuses to comply with the administrative decision, it could be barred from federal contracting.
"This is an extremely important ruling that upholds our right to review a company's employment practices, including those affecting corporate executives," Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman said Thursday in a release. "This is the only way we can be sure that companies doing business with the federal government are treating all their employees in accordance with the law."
Beverly provides nursing home care for veterans under a multimillion dollar contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As a federal contractor, Beverly is subject to affirmative action and equal employment opportunity requirements enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
Officials with the Labor Department initially contacted Beverly in September 1998 to schedule a compliance evaluation. Beverly refused to allow compliance officers access to its premises and to its personnel data.
The contract compliance office filed suit in May against Beverly and Administrative Law Judge Larry Price ruled July 23 that Beverly had no grounds for refusing access to its records and premises.
The Labor Department's Administrative Review Board agreed with Price's ruling.
The final decision, received by the parties Sept. 3, gave Beverly 30 days to comply with the request for access. It Beverly does not comply, the release said, the company will face cancellation of current contracts and be prohibited from future contracts.
Springer said that Beverly would ask a judge to intervene within the next few days.
CLICK HERE for Beverly's response to this.
Manor workers are awarded back pay
The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA) April 7, 2000
PLYMOUTH -- About 70 current and former workers at Beverly Manor of Plymouth Nursing Home will share $ 85,000 in back pay awarded after a four-year legal battle, a union leader said yesterday.
The National Labor Relations Board ordered the award after Beverly Manor changed the terms of a pay increase in 1996 without bargaining with the union, said Michael Fadel, director of Hospital Workers Local 767 in Hyannis.
Beverly Enterprises, the Arkansas-based nursing home chain that owns the Plymouth facility, fought the ruling for four years and did not exhaust its appeals until now, Fadel said.
SEIU Report Reveals Many Nursing Home
Workers Go Without Healthcare; Long-Term Care Industry Reaps
Profits While Workers Sacrifice
PR Newswire October 21, 1998
While many nursing home workers are going without healthcare coverage, the companies they work for are growing and profitable. From 1996 to 1997, the operating profits for the top six nursing home chains rose dramatically, with the top executives, not the workers, reaping the benefits. Total compensation jumped an average of 300 percent for the heads of Beverly Enterprises, Genesis Health Ventures, Vencor, Paragon Health Ventures, Integrated Health Services and Sun Health Care Group.
COMMENT:- One of the major complaints of the nurses is that corporations screw vast profits out of the system by cutting staff and underpaying. The executives who accomplish this award themselves with multimillion dollar bonuses. The nurses struggling under dreadful conditions to provide some care get nothing.
Labor's next recruits
St. Petersburg Times March 15, 1999
They are not the only ones making money, said Ben Hensler, a spokesman for Unite in Washington. "One of the big developments in the nursing home industry is the growth of national chains where owners make multimillion-dollar compensation," he said, pointing out that Beverly Enterprise Inc.'s top five executives made $ 9.1-million in 1996.
Nursing home administrators, many worried about future union efforts, scratch their heads over why organizers are targeting their industry at all.
The nearly 3,000 Florida long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, have been struggling with cutbacks in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. The top corporate nursing home operators in the region, including Beverly, Genesis Health Ventures Inc. and Extendicare Inc., have seen profits decline.
UPDATE August 20001
OSHA regs die, but issue lives on
The National Law Journal April 23, 2001
Copyright 2001 The New York Law Publishing Company
BY JERALD J. OPPEL, SPECIAL TO THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL;
Mr. Oppel practices employment and labor law at Baltimore's Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver.. Jesse B. Hammock, a law clerk at the firm, contributed to this article.
Despite repeal on ergonomics standard, the topic is still one for employers to watch.
GOVERNMENT GIVETH, and government taketh away. Congress recently exercised its power under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and voted to overturn the ergonomics standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The purpose of the standard was to reduce the number and severity of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The standard went into effect in January, and most employers had to be compliant by October of this year. However, the Senate voted 56-44 (with 6 Democrats in support) to overturn the regulations, and, the next day, the House voted 223-206 (with 16 Democrats in support) to do the same. On March 20, President Bush signed the legislation, which relieves employers from the requirements of the standard, at least for now; there already are other laws on the books that OSHA and its state counterparts can use to deal with ergonomic-related conditions.
OSHA enforcement actions
Can OSHA use the general-duties clause to enforce ergonomic violations? In the mid-1990s, OSHA levied large monetary penalties against two employers for ergonomic violations relying on the general-duties clause. The employers -- Beverly Enterprises, a nursing facility, and Pepperidge Farms Inc. -- appealed the citations, and each eventually had a hearing before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. n2 In the Beverly Enterprises case, the commission ruled that ergonomic hazards are "recognized hazards" and can be linked to injuries suffered by workers. As a result of this ruling, the commission found that OSHA had met two of the three requirements that allow it to fine employers under the general-duties clause. The third requirement, the feasibility of requiring the employer to remedy the causes of the injury, remains an unresolved issue and a final determination is pending by an administrative law judge.
Secretary of Labor v. Pepperidge Farm Inc., 17 OSHC 1993 (1997); Secretary of Labor v. Beverly Enterprises, 19 OSCH 1161 (2000).
Until the issue in Beverly Enterprises is resolved, OSHA's ability to use the general-duties clause to enforce an ergonomic violation remains questionable.
Comment:- Beverly has had endless problems because of the way in which it deals with staff. It has been the subject of investigations for breeching labour regulations and has been one of the countries worst performers in occupational health. Despite its reputation for poor care and for fraud it remains aggressively confrontational.
Beverly wants government to explain
The Associated Press State & Local Wire April 30, 2001
Beverly Enterprises, the largest nursing home business in the country, said Monday it hoped a disagreement with the U.S. Labor Department can be worked out without requiring a court order.
The Labor Department asked in a petition filed Friday in U.S. District Court for an order requiring the Fort Smith-based company to appear at an administrative hearing to provide information about the company's nursing homes at Heber Springs and Hot Springs.
The petition said Beverly officials failed repeatedly to provide the information and failed to show up for a March 15 hearing at Jonesboro before Chad Dalton of the department's wage and hour division.
The department said it was investigating Beverly Healthcare at Heber Springs and Geriatrics Nursing Center at Hot Springs. A department lawyer would not comment on the investigation Monday.
The petition said that since Jan. 16, the agency has asked Beverly Enterprises repeatedly for records on the dollar volume of business it does, for payroll records, and for the names and addresses and Social Security numbers of those in management. The department also asked for information on the company's suppliers and on the equipment itself.
Title and Source of article unknown --
By Carolyn McMillan Jan 2000
As the waves crashed along Tajiguas Beach on a recent morning, Mary Hochman walked out onto the sand, took out a .38-caliber revolver and shot herself in the heart.
Hochman fell into the surf, the splash marking the end to an emotional struggle that began five months ago when she reported that a co-worker beat one of her patients.
The 52-year-old night nurse at a local convalescent home was broke and was broken-hearted after months of bitter dispute with her employer. It all began when she tried to report that a nurse's aide hit an 81-year-old man who suffers from dementia.
She said she was told to cover up the information, a charge she detailed in a sworn declaration and a detailed journal she left behind.
"If a nurse cannot protect her patients I do not want to be a nurse. This has taken all hope away from me. I cannot continue to watch my husband and my daughter suffer because I was a whistle-blower," Hochman said in the final paragraph of the hand-written suicide note she left in her car.
But when Hochman told state regulators in March about the beating allegation, infuriating her supervisors, Hochman claimed she was verbally reprimanded and she never returned to work.
Her death, the note and the journal have sparked a state Department of Justice investigation into a facility that public records show has widespread problems, and focused attention on the health care practices of her former employer the largest nursing home in Santa Barbara County.
State officials have found Beverly La Cumbre, at 3880 Via Lucero, responsible for at least 23 cases of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of residents over the last 20 months by far the most complaints of any convalescent hospital in the county according to public records maintained by the Long Term Care Ombudsman Services of Santa Barbara.
In her suicide note, Hochman described the pain she had endured after "blowing the whistle" on coverups at Beverly La Cumbre. She claimed to have lost her friends at work, her seniority and ability to pay her bills. She feared that she could lose her nursing license.
Hochman took the incident seriously. She filled out nurse's notes, a procedural step for proper reporting, and then filed an incident report. But she was told to not follow through on the other steps to officially report the matter, according to a sworn declaration Hochman had filed with the Department of Health Services.
Hochman made a copy of the incident report and took it home, which she later showed to the Department of Health Services evaluator. The evaluator then went to the director of nursing, who had allegedly tried to cover up the incident.
Mary Hochman sent a declaration to the Department of Health Services alleging that she had been retaliated against, but a Health Services investigation into the matter was unable to find any evidence of retaliation.
"Since I became a whistleblower my entire life has been ruined. I tried to do the right thing to protect my patients. I have no job. I cannot pay my bills. I have no faith in nursing. If a nurse reports wrongdoing to the State her life will be ruined like mine.
She will lose her patients, her friends at work, her seniority.
Medical records can be changed by administrators and no one will do anything. [Nurse's name]'s nurses notes were replaced by a nurse who was not even in the building on the stated date. [Another nurse's name]'s notes were destroyed. Is there anyone out there who understands how important it is that nurses be able to report wrongdoing. And these nurses must be protected when they report to the State.
If a nurse cannot protect her patients I do not want to be a nurse. This has taken all hope away from me. I cannot continue to watch my husband and my daughter suffer because I was a whistleblower."
COMMENT:- Given the situation and behaviour described above it is little wonder that the nurses are joining unions in droves and that the unions are taking up the cudgel for them
Health Care Workers Turn
The Associated Press January 31, 1998
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company
BOSTON (AP) -- Just three years out of nursing school, Kristen Stentisford thought she was lucky to get a job at Beverly Hospital.
But she quickly felt overwhelmed, taking care of seven or eight very sick patients at a time. She remembers hospital administrators telling her not to tell patients how many nurses were on the floor.
Last week, Stentisford voted to join the Massachusetts Nurses Association because she believes hospital understaffing puts patients in danger.
``Benefits and pay are a factor, but they're fourth or fifth on the list,'' said Stentisford, who voted on the winning side to be represented by the MNA. ``They're burning people out before they even have time to feel comfortable with their skills.''
The vote was the fourth straight successful organizing drive by the union in Massachusetts in 10 months.
All over the country, labor organizers say the restructuring of health care and the shift to managed care is driving worried health care workers into the arms of collective bargaining. Unionized health care workers are beginning to flex their newfound muscle not just over traditional salary and benefit issues, but over patient safety.
``Patient care and understaffing are at the root of why nurses are organizing,'' said Anna Gilmore-Hall, director of labor relations at the American Nurses Association.
``The workload is atrocious, patients are in the hospital for a shorter period of time, they're very sick, and you've got fewer nurses.''
The ANA, she said, is also hearing from pharmacists, physicians and patient health and safety specialists concerned about cutbacks. Bo Piela, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Association of HMOs, acknowledged staffs are shrinking but blamed technology and cost pressures.
``The cost pressures are coming from employers, the people who pay for health care, employers and consumers,'' Piela said. ``These cost pressures have, over the past five years or so, caused everyone to try to figure out how we can provide good, high-quality health care more efficiently.''
Back at the Beverly Hospital, spokesman Jack Good insisted that the ratio of nurses to patients has remained constant. He called the unionization vote a backlash against the new health care environment.
It is a backlash being felt all across the country.
``There's definitely a trend underway,'' said Tana Adde, spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board. In 1996, for the first time in at least a decade, more health care workers voted to join unions than voted against.
``There's a speedup going on and it's real scary,'' said Rondeau. ``Hospital administrations are under a huge amount of pressure to cut costs. A lot of decisions get made about cutting costs from a distance.
``Maybe they'd be made differently if they were made on the shop floor.''
CLICK HERE to go to Beverly's comments
The Unions are able to collect the sort of information which allows them to speak out about business practices and patient care without fear of defamation actions. They are able to defend themselves in court. This does not stop the corporations from making every effort to discredit their data and misrepresent their motives.
The SEIU has been active in exposing deficient care by corporate chains including Sun Healthcare, Genesis and now Beverly. They have studied available figures. They have been accurate in trhe past and there is no reason to doubt them now. Beverly's track record in contrast is very poor (see care page). Nurses work in the hospitals and should know. All of these companies have responded by questioning the figures, attacking the unions, and accussing them of being self serving. They have not challeged with figures of their own.
Beverly profits up, care down, union
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette July 13, 1999, Tuesday
Although Beverly Enterprises Inc. is earning big profits in Alabama, patients in its nursing homes there get less care than at other nursing homes in the state, a union charges in a report it plans to release today. The report, prepared by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, accuses the nation's largest nursing home operator of earning double the median nursing-home profit in Alabama over the past two years. While Beverly's Alabama profits rose 27 percent in 1997-98, Beverly employees spent 15 percent less time caring for patients -- an average two hours, three minutes each day -- than other state nursing homes, the report charges.
During 1997-98, the period the union examined, Beverly's profits rose 27 percent in Alabama, but half of its facilities cut the amount of care they gave residents, the report says.
The report says if Beverly had been content with average Alabama profits, it would have earned $ 12 million over the same two-year period. That could have been used to improve patient care and increase low wages, a cause of chronic employee turnover. Many nursing-home workers earn little more than minimum wage, and experts say high turnover rates are linked in part to poor care.
The union, relying on government records, also says Alabama regulators cited Beverly nursing homes for 394 violations of federal nursing-home regulations, including 25 that actually injured residents. It says bedsores, often used as a measure of nursing quality, were much more frequent at Beverly homes than at other Alabama facilities.
The union also cites Beverly's regulatory history in other states, including Arkansas, and quotes from an Arkansas Department of Human Services memo that questioned whether Beverly's "poorly run facilities are the result of what appears to be an overemphasis on profit."
The union calls on Alabama and other states to examine how profit and nursing-home staffing affect patients care, provide more money for patient care and adopt legislation requiring larger staffs, better monitoring of patient care, publicly posted staffing schedules and protections for nursing-home workers who report problems.
At least one researcher has found that for-profit nursing-home chains provide worse care, on average, than nonprofit or government-run homes. An association for nonprofit nursing homes recently came to a similar conclusion.
COMMENT:- The next article gives more information about the actual findings.
Union claims owner of nursing homes
sacrificing patient care for big profits
The Associated Press State & Local Wire July 14, 1999
An Arkansas-based company that operates 21 nursing homes in Alabama is sacrificing patient care for big profits, according to representatives of union employees at Beverly Enterprises Inc.
Elaise Fox, secretary-treasurer for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union's Local 1657, said some of the company's homes are too short-handed to provide adequate care.
"Sometimes it's 2 o'clock before anybody can get around to combing their hair, and their teeth haven't been brushed in two days and they get a bath on Monday and Wednesday," Ms. Fox said at a news conference.
Union representatives released a report that they said shows the company earned $ 29 million in profits from its Alabama operations in 1997 and 1998, twice the average median earnings by nursing homes in the state.
The report said Beverly provided an average of two hours and three minutes of daily hands-on care by certified nurses aides per resident, which the union contends is 15 percent below state average, and staffed its homes below state and national averages.
Gene Burskin, a projects director for the union, said the report was compiled from state inspections, Medicaid cost reports, and certified nurses aides who work in the homes.
Burskin said the union is calling for a state investigation of the company's profits and patient care.
CLICK HERE for the company's response.
REGIONAL NEWS: NORTHEAST
Modern Healthcare February 10, 1997 Page 28
JOHNSTOWN, Pa.-A federal judge last month reversed himself and vacated his earlier order requiring Beverly Enterprises to reinstate several hundred Pennsylvania nursing home workers who had gone on strike and were replaced.
The initial injunction was sought by the National Labor Relations Board at the request of the Service Employees International Union, which called a one-day strike at 15 Pennsylvania health facilities last April.
U.S. District Judge D. Brooks Smith in Johnstown on Jan. 21 ordered Beverly to reinstate 389 workers who had been replaced, but Beverly immediately appealed, arguing its employees were "misled and misinformed by their union."
The company said it has rehired all but 68 of the strikers. Beverly said the judge reversed himself Jan. 30 after the NLRB changed its position on the case, "a very strong indication the board had no confidence in defending the ruling in an appeals court."
UFCW: Workers, Community to Protest
Beverly Enterprises Dumping of 100 Workers in Alabama
U.S. Newswire November 06, 1998
The following was released today by United Food and Commerical Workers Union:
The controversial nursing home giant, Beverly Enterprises, is drawing fire again from workers and community groups. This time Beverly has dumped 100 long-term workers at eight Alabama nursing homes in a move to contract out housekeeping and laundry operations.
The mostly African-American workers see the move as a cynical ploy to take away the wages and health benefits provided under their union contract. Despite long years of service to Beverly, the workers would have to apply for work as new hires with the outside housekeeping and laundry contractor.
Local 1657 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the representative of the workers, is leading the protest and has also filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The union alleges that Beverly has violated federal law in unilaterally eliminating the jobs.
Beverly Enterprises, the nation's largest nursing home operator, has for years been no stranger to controversy. Allegations of poor patient care, negligence and fraud have plagued the company across the country. In Texas and California, juries have made multimillion-dollar awards in cases of fraud and negligence against Beverly. In Florida, Arkansas and Missouri, government regulators have found repeated violations of government standards for patient care at Beverly facilities. A 1997 Government Accounting Office report found Beverly to be one of the nation's worst labor law violators among government contractors.
COMMENT:- You have read the articles above. Who are you going to believe below?
NURSING HOME EMPLOYEES PICKET
Florida Today September 21, 1999
Pickets took to a Palm Bay sidewalk Monday to protest what they claim is stalling in contract talks by Beverly Enterprises, the nation's largest nursing home company.
Members of Local 1115 of the Service Employees International Union -- carrying signs and chanting "The people united can never be defeated" -- say Beverly has refused to make specific offers regarding wages and benefits.
Ortiz, however, said the entire round of negotiations, which includes all the groups, has been ongoing for nine months, "and there is still no contract."
"We have made proposals. They're supposed to make a counterproposal. That's how you negotiate," Ortiz said. "They aren't doing it."
Protests will be held at the other locations, all of which are seeking their first contracts.
"We want a contract and fair wages," said Denise Faiola, a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, who said she has 16 years of experience and makes $ 8.20 an hour. Also an issue is staffing levels, she said as others agreed.
"We complain, and they say they're going to fix it. They do for a while, then they let it go again."
CNA Deborah Stanley, who works at Beverly-owned Haverhill Care Center in West Palm Beach, drove up to support fellow union members. "The company keeps canceling negotiating sessions," she said. "We have to show them we'll do what it takes to get a fair contract."
"We came to support our fellow workers," she said as she finished her shift on the picket line and tucked her belongings into her truck. "You can't stand up for yourself without a union contract behind you. They'll say you're insubordinate. We're working for better staffing and for our dignity."
Comment:- The agreement below seems to have been amicable. Perhaps Floyd is doing it differently
Pennsylvania Nursing Home Employees Accept
The Patriot-News August 10, 2001, Friday
Unionized workers at 19 Pennsylvania nursing homes owned by Beverly Enterprises have accepted a new contract providing pay raises and better medical benefits for 1,500 workers.
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