On Tuesday, September 11th, New York University students led a fired up crowd of over 200 caregivers and supporters in a rally at the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice to draw attention to the exploitative practices of the Care One and HealthBridge nursing homes. NYU Law School trustee Daniel Straus runs both nursing home chains, which have unlawfully fired workers for trying to form a union and slashed healthcare benefits for caregivers, while supporters of Straus and Care One have threatened students and caregivers with violence.
Some students were dressed as “dirty money,” while others wore top hats and handed out fake “dirty money” dollar bills. Meanwhile, striking caregivers from HealthBridge facilities in Connecticut and caregivers from Care One facilities in New Jersey, several of whom were fired when they tried to form a union, led the crowd in chants.
The “dirty money” theme symbolized the Institute’s hypocrisy in claiming its commitment to law and justice while accepting funds from endower and NYU Law School trustee Daniel Straus, whose companies have violated federal labor law. Some caregivers also held a banner that read “The Straus Institute for Worker Injustice” to more aptly reflect the views of Daniel Straus.
Jeffrey Jimenez, a Certified Nursing Assistant with Care One Woodcrest in New Milford, NJ, was among the caregivers in attendance. 1199SEIU has filed Unfair Labor Practice Charges against Care One Woodcrest for firing workers for forming a union.
“I came out to the action today to support my colleagues who are on strike in Connecticut, and to educate the NYU community about what Daniel Straus is really about,” said Jimenez. “NYU should know that Straus may give a lot of money to the Straus Institute, but his companies refuse to give workers the wages and benefits we deserve. We voted to form a union with 1199 at Woodcrest because of issues like short staffing and lack of respect that make it difficult for us to provide for ourselves and our families. We want to ask the NYU community: Is this how workers should be treated by one of your trustees?”
The protestors were met by small group of anti-union counter-protestors, whose sole purpose seemed to be to intimidate and harass them. While the protestors led a peaceful event, the anti-union squad tried to tear the “Straus Institute for Worker Injustice” banner from their hands, chanted slurs and threatened an NYU student with violence. Still, the workers refused to be deterred from their mission of informing the NYU community about the Straus Institute’s funding. The anti-union hecklers left abruptly when the NYPD arrived.
“The fact that nurses and students exercising their free speech rights were met by goons demonstrates that Daniel Straus' hypocrisy knows no bounds,” said Adaner Usmani, an NYU student and member of the Student Action Labor Movement (SLAM). “Outside the center bearing his name these thugs hurled homophobic slurs at students handing out fliers, swore at organizers, nurses and photographers, and threatened to violently attack protesters. Shame on him!”
NYU Law School trustee Daniel Straus runs the hugely profitable Care One and HealthBridge nursing home chains in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and other states. Some nursing homes run by Straus’ companies have threatened to slash healthcare benefits, staffing and wages for caregivers, or have refused to recognize workers’ legally protected right to form a union. Administrative Law Judges have recently found that Straus-run nursing homes violated federal labor law 17 times. Meanwhile, Daniel Straus endowed the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice at NYU Law School with annual gifts of $1.25 million.