Since they weren't allowed to go into the building, employees of the West River Health Care Center in Milford spent the day protesting outside on the sidewalk.
“They were told by the employer, Healthbridge Care One, that they would not allow them to come in and take care of the residents, that they were going to lock them out,” said Suzanne Clark, Vice President of Local 1199, the union representing the workers.
Healthbridge locked out the workers Tuesday after failed negotiations between the union and the nursing home's management. The union says Healthbridge wants a bare bones contract, which would take away too many benefits and end up costing employees anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 dollars over the six-year contract.
“I was shocked, very hurt that they would do this right before Christmas time. Our residents are suffering now and we're going to suffer. Our families are going to suffer, and our community is going to suffer,” said Michelle Baricko, an employee from Ansonia.
The company offered employees an eight-percent wage increase in the first year followed by one-and-a-half percent the following years.
In a statement, Lisa Crutchfield says "After 10 months of bargaining with virtually no progress, we felt that we had no choice. We felt we needed to take this action to try to bring these negotiations to a conclusion," said Lisa Crutchfield, a spokesperson for Healthbridge.
The company hired other workers to take care of the residents, but the full-time employees are wondering what that is costing the residents.
“I have a resident in there. Today is her 88th birthday. We went out, bought cake because we told her we were going to have a birthday party for her. Her son lives in New York, and now today she has a stranger taking care of her on her birthday,” said Antoinette Cothran.