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Conn. nursing home workers begin strike at five homes

HARTFORD — About 700 staff members at five Connecticut nursing homes followed through with a threatened strike on Tuesday to protest what they say are labor concessions imposed by the company that owns the facilities.

Nurses and nursing assistants, as well as laundry, dietary, and housekeeping workers were among those who walked picket lines more than two weeks after HealthBridge/Care One and the union, District 1199 of the Service ­Employees Union, broke off nego­tiations. The two sides had been bargaining for 17 months.

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Deborah Chernoff, a spokeswoman for the union, accused the company of seeking to ­impose a contract that would cut working hours of employees, sharply increase health ­insurance contributions, and end employees’ pensions.

‘‘It’s a very large number of many significant cuts,’’ she said.

The union accuses the company of acting illegally by trying to impose its ‘‘last, best offer’’ of contract terms.

Lisa Crutchfield, a spokeswoman for the company, ­accused the union of striking because it failed to pressure the company into accepting ‘‘un­realistic contract proposals any other way.’’

‘‘The actions of the affiliated Health Care Centers to implement their ‘last, best, and final’ contract offers after 35 bargaining sessions and almost 17 months of negotiations failed to result in new agreements are fully legal, and the union knows it,’’ she said in a statement.

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