SEIU Presses Carlyle Group on Manor Care Deal

It began a few weeks ago when the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) staged a protest outside the Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters of The Carlyle Group as part of the union's bid to organize Manor Care, the Toledo-based nursing home giant Carlyle is buying for $6.3 billion.

Then the SEIU started a radio campaign, giving out the phone number of Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein and asking the public to call him directly and ask him not to cut care and staffing at the company. Last week, the SEIU pushed a wheelbarrow full of fake cash up Pennsylvania Avenue, which was meant to symbolize tax breaks afforded to Carlyle and other private equity firms.

Today, the SEIU took its protests directly to nursing home company, holding a rally outside Manor Care's Toledo headquarters as shareholders met inside to decide on whether to accept Carlyle's offer. The deal passed, with 99 percent of the shares voted in favor of the deal -- representing about 76 percent of the total number of shares outstanding.

Before the vote, the union sent representatives into the investors' meeting to make a statement and ask questions of the board of directors, but it said in a statement this afternoon that Manor Care chief executive Paul Ormond declined to take questions regarding the deal. SEIU plans to send a 30-member delegation from Toledo to Washington to deliver a list of its demands to Carlyle.

"The SEIU is trying to hold Carlyle accountable for the impact of its actions on taxpayers, workers and senior citizens," said SEIU spokesman Andy McDonald. "Carlyle is a big, powerful firm. They have a responsibility that matches their size, which is one of the top five biggest buyout firms. They employ 280,000 worldwide and have $75 billion in assets under management. What they do matters in the economy."

McDonald said the decisions Carlyle makes on Manor Care will have implications on that industry, and SEIU is saying that instead of cutting staff and reducing operations, this buyout should be an opportunity to improve care and give caregivers a voice."

Carlyle spokesman Christopher Ullman said he has fielded about 20 phone calls due to the SEIU radio campaign.

"I have spoken personally to a number of the callers," he said. "I have answered their questions. I corrected some of their misimpressions. And I reaffirmed to them that we are committed to providing quality care. Quality care is our top priority."

Ullman said the current Manor Care management team "is already doing an excellent job and we look forward to supporting them in this next phase of Manor Care's growth and development. Seniors and their families should rest assured that we are committed to providing high quality services to our patients and residents."

-- Thomas Heath

By Mike Shepard  |  October 17, 2007; 5:00 PM ET  | Category:  Carlyle , Private Equity
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