After first denying any connections to a group of protestors who threatened and harassed NYU students at a protest in September, CareOne/HealthBridge Management, a nursing home company owned by NYU Law School Trustee Daniel Straus, has now admitted to having hired “security” for the rally, The Villager reports.
On September 11, workers from Straus’ nursing homes along with student activists from NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) held a protest outside of NYU’s Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice, aiming to bring attention to the ongoing labor dispute between CareOne/Healthbridge and SEIU 1199 NE, the union that represents the company’s striking workers.
But when the students and workers arrived, they were met by an unexpected addition to their rally: an opposing group of counter-protestors who claimed to be workers at Straus-owned nursing homes wanting to show their support for the company.
The problem was that some of these alleged workers were unable to give the name of the nursing homes at which they said they were employed. SLAM organizers immediately called fowl, saying that these were anti-union thugs hired by the company to intimidate students. But in a September 19 statement to The Villager, CareOne spokesman Tim Hodges wrote, “As to the absurd accusation that our company hired people to intimidate demonstrators at the Sept. 11 rally, nothing could be further from the truth.”
The students, however, continued their campaign against Straus, and the union searched for evidence of a connection between the counter-protestors and Straus’ company. They claimed to discover that the people posing as CareOne/HealthBridge employees had been hired by Mark Petrozzella, a former reality TV personality and friend of the CEO of National Labor Consultants, an anti-union consulting firm that CareOne hired earlier this year. On September 6, Petrozzella posted this ad on his Facebook page:
In response to these developments, Hodges told The Villager last week, “Our experience has been that strikers have been less than respectful to the neighborhoods in which they have picketed. Our concern that they would bring this behavior to NYU, coupled with uneasiness about the ongoing ruthless SEIU tactics and the actions of some within the SEIU, led us to believe that it was prudent to have security for the HealthBridge and CareOne employees exercising their right to free speech in a counter-protest.”