See third column re dousing a car in gasoline
Stalled bargaining heats up talk of nursing home strike By BILL LEUKHARDT Courant Staff Writer NEW BRITAIN Stalled contract contract talks and a strike vote by a union at Andrew House nursing home could mean picket lines May 16. In a press release Monday, Andrew Andrew House administrator David Santoro accused the union representing representing 65 nurses aides and laundry, laundry, housekeeping and dietary workers of pushing for a strike rather rather than compromising at the bargaining bargaining table. The union represents half the nursing home staff. But members of the union, District District 1199 of the New England Health Care Employees Union, said management has canceled several negotiating sessions in recent months and has refused since March to set new meeting times with the union. "Nobody likes the idea of a strike but we can't live under the conditions conditions the company is proposing," said Elaine Geraci, a nurse's aide at Andrew for the past 12 years. "There is no wage offer. The benefits benefits are terrible. A lot of women working here can't pay for their own health insurance." District 1199, which became the bargaining agent for Andrews House last fall, is trying to improve conditions for workers by getting more affordable medical benefits, better pay, protection for part-time part-time part-time ana per-aiem per-aiem per-aiem worKers ana a pension, pension, said union employee Edgar Aracena. "The benefits package here is horrendous," Aracena said. "A lot of single mothers work here. Some can't afford insurance so their children children aren't covered. Some earn so little, they qualify for food stamps." In April, city and state elected leaders went to Andrew House at the union's invitation and urged Santoro to bargain in good faith and provide workers with adequate pay and benefits. Santoro told his visitors that day that he believed the nursing home, owned by Vencor Corp. ot Kentucky, Kentucky, was negotiating in good faith. On Monday, Santoro said the union was manipulating workers into authorizing a strike. "We believe our employees don't really want to strike and leave their patients," Santoro said. "Rather, they are being manipulated by a union that refuses to compromise at the bargaining table." Andrew House has settled contracts contracts for 20 years without a strike but is prepared to continue operations operations if a strike occurs, Santoro said. District 1 199 said Monday that all Vencor has offered at the table are cut-backs cut-backs cut-backs in workers' rights, benefits benefits and job security. Union leaders said that Vencor, with 300 nursing homes and many hospitals across . the country, has the money to improve improve conditions at Andrew House. In the past three years, Andrew House has generated $600,000 in revenues to Vencor, which had revenues revenues of $100 million in 1995 and paid its chief executive officer $4.9 million that year. , "We think it's immoral that a company that makes millions and can afford to pay its top officer almost almost $5 million a year is not willing to pay its workers a living wage or provide affordable health benefits," District 1199 spokesman Leslie Frane said. "We would love to settle without a strike," Frane said. "But management management canceled our last two meetings meetings and has not gotten back to our requests for another meeting." Hartford police news Two men who police say tried to set a pizzeria owner's car on fire were arraigned Monday. The two were thwarted in their attempt when they couldn't light a match in the rain, police said. Michael Kendall, of 35 London Road, Windsor, and Paul Jones of 42 Great Hill Road, East Hartford, both 36, were both charged with first-degree first-degree first-degree attempted to commit arson and disorderly conduct. Kendall was also charged with disobeying an officer, engaging ponce in pursuit and reckless driving. Jones was also charged with conspiracy to commit first-deeree first-deeree first-deeree arson. The two were being held late Monday at Hartford Correctional Center, Kendall on $300,000 bail and Jones on $100,000. The arrests stem from an inci dent on Friday, which started inside inside Kent Pizza, 211 Garden St., police said. The owner told officers officers that he threw Kendall and Jones out of his restaurant after they became belligerent. A short time later they returned to douse his automobile, parked out front, with gasoline, the owner owner told officers. Officers arrived before the two managed to light anv matches. Dolice said. Kendall tried to flee by driving his car in reverse up Garden Street, police said, but was cor nered at an intersection just north of the corner pizza shop in the A It'll 11 1 J Asyium nui neignDornooa. Weather A report from the Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University updated 3 times a day. Call 246-1000 246-1000 246-1000 or 1-800-246-8070 1-800-246-8070 1-800-246-8070 1-800-246-8070 1-800-246-8070 1-800-246-8070 1-800-246-8070 and enter Source No. 1212 A touch-tone touch-tone touch-tone phone it required.