CTNJ file photo

The state’s largest association of skilled nursing facilities says the way lawmakers are planning to distribute funds to nursing homes violates federal law.

The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities warned Sunday night in a statement that distributing $9 million to raise wages in 60 unionized nursing homes and only $4 million to 170 non-unionized skilled nursing facilities is “blatantly unfair and discriminatory to the non-union workers who do the exact same work as the union workers with the same Connecticut taxpayer money.” 

Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the association, said nursing homes in Connecticut are overwhelmingly non-union with only 30 percent associated with organized labor.

That means non-union workers would see overall wages increase 0.75 percent, while unionized nursing homes would receive a 5.5 percent increase. According to Barrett this amounts to a 10 cent raise for non-union workers, and an 80 cent raise for union workers — eight times the increase non-union workers would receive.

Barrett warned that if lawmakers approve the allocation they are putting at risk federal matching funds for $1.2 billion in Medicaid nursing home expenditures.

Legislative leaders Friday said they put an additional $1 million into the budget for non-union homes, bringing the wage increase funding for those homes up to $4 million.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday that they were giving an additional $1 million to the non-union homes to “provide a little bit more equity.”

Barrett said the additional $1 million, however well-intended, doesn’t address the underlying inequity of the allocation and it’s possible his association will take legal action.

Barrett said there’s well-established case law that doesn’t allow for this type of inequity to exist between union and non-union homes. In addition the association will urge the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which oversees the nursing home funds, to reject any plan in Connecticut that does not provide pay equity.

Lawmakers are expected to convene at 10 a.m. today to adopt legislation that spells out how the money in the two-year, $40.3 billion budget should be spent.

Earlier this year SEIU 1199 threatened to go on strike over wages but held off pending the outcome of the state budget negotiations.