News & Events

Labor groups affirm support of Caritas deal

Letter to AG criticizes efforts to slow purchase

By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff

Representatives from nine labor groups in Massachusetts sent a letter to the state attorney general’s office yesterday reiterating their support for the purchase of Boston’s Caritas Christi Health Care by a New York private equity firm.

The letter criticized a group of rival hospitals that last week called on state officials to impose strict conditions on the sale, ranging from a ban on improper recruiting of doctors from competitors to a requirement that the buyer, Cerberus Capital Management, not sell Caritas for at least seven years rather than the three years it has committed to holding onto the chain of six Catholic hospitals.

It also took issue with a letter sent by the competitors and a larger coalition Tuesday, urging regulators to slow the approval process to assure the deal does not hurt access to affordable health care.

“We believe that regulatory process around the Caritas merger has been thorough, transparent, inclusive of all voices, and conducted at a very reasonable pace,’’ the labor representatives wrote.

They included Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Robert Haynes, Massachusetts Building Trades Council president Francis X. Callahan Jr., Teamsters Local 25 president Sean M. O’Brien, and Veronica Turner, executive vice president of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. Those unions represent workers at Caritas hospitals across eastern Massachusetts.

Their letter was addressed to David Spackman, chief of the attorney general’s public charities division, who is leading the office’s review of the proposed purchase of Caritas.

Spackman’s boss, Attorney General Martha Coakley, is expected to make a recommendation this fall to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, which would need to approve the conversion of the nonprofit system to an investor-owned business.

The deal also awaits approval by the state Department of Public Health, which would have to issue new licenses for the six Caritas hospitals. They include two Boston hospitals, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton and Carney Hospital in Dorchester.

Robert Weisman can be reached at