Milford nursing home lockout set to end

HealthBridge Management announced Friday that it will end the lockout of unionized workers at its West River Health Care Center in Milford beginning Wednesday. The 78 workers have been locked out since Dec. 13.

Contracts for the facility’s employees, and those of workers at five other unionized HealthBridge nursing homes in Connecticut, expired more than a year ago. In locking out the West River workers in December, the company said the union had failed to accept a final offer or make meaningful counterproposals. The union, New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU, has called the company’s offers unacceptable.

In a statement Friday evening, HealthBridge said the union had agreed to four bargaining dates in April and four in May.

The union and the company have also been at odds over HealthBridge’s proposal to close a Wethersfield nursing home. The state Department of Social Services denied the company’s request to close Wethersfield Health Care Center, and the company has asked for a hearing to contest the denial. But the number of residents in the nursing home has fallen from 182 to 92 since the closure proposal was announced last fall, and HealthBridge laid off 74 workers and cut the hours of another 44 earlier this month.