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Southern Tier Labor Mobilizes To Fight Cattaraugus County’s Interest In Privatizing Two County Nursing Homes

Union Representatives “Disappointed” In Receiving ‘No Support’ From Two Democratic County Lawmakers During Human Services Committee Vote – Unions Plan Second Major Turnout This Wednesday In A Further Effort To Stop The Process

Published Monday, July 25, 2016
by WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
Southern Tier Labor Mobilizes To Fight Cattaraugus County’s Interest In Privatizing Two County Nursing Homes

(LITTLE VALLEY, NEW YORK) – Organized Labor in the Southern Tier plans a second major turnout Wednesday (July 27th) in an attempt to halt Cattaraugus County’s interest in privatizing two county nursing homes - after voicing their disappointment in receiving no support from two Democratic lawmakers during last week’s two individual committee votes that pushed a fact-finding process forward.

A Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 805 representative told WNYLaborToday.com the Union anticipates more than the combined 60 or so Union-represented Nursing Home Workers, other Labor Representatives, county residents with loved ones who reside at either The Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Centers in Olean and Machias, and concerned citizens to attend Wednesday’s (July 27th) full Legislature meeting that will further address the issue. 

“I’m sure we will have ‘even more’ Workers who are employed at The Pines in attendance (on Wednesday),” CSEA Spokeswoman Sheri Ambuske told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.  “We’ll look to ‘jam’ it.”

Those attending last week’s rally wore bright yellow t-shirts and held signs that read: Save Our Home and Save Their Home (Photos Courtesy of Cattaraugus-Allegany AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Anna Geronimo).

The Pines’ Olean facility, which has 120 beds, has 63 full-time, 42 part-time and 12 supervision Employees, according to local Union Officials.  Meanwhile, the 115-bed Pines’ Machias facility employs 50 full-time, 48 part-time and 12 supervision Employees.  CSEA represents The Pines’ Cattaraugus County nursing home workforce.

Last week, the county’s Human Services and Finance Committees met, where resolutions on their individual agendas seeking Requests For Proposals (RFP) for the potential sale of the two nursing homes were passed.  

However, after the Human Services Committee passed a resolution seeking RFPs - by a 5-to-2 vote that featured two Republican legislators being the only ones to vote against the resolution and with two Democrats voting for it, the Finance Committee was locked in a 3-3 vote on the same resolution, but a vacancy on the committee was quickly filed on the spot by a Democratic legislator (Dick Giardini-Allegany) who voted in favor of seeking RFPs.

The CSEA Ambuske told WNYLaborToday.com that Labor was “unhappy” with the “back door” opportunity the Finance Committee took advantage of to pass a resolution by the slimmest of margins seeking RFPs. 

“How ‘back door’ can you get?  It was done for a ‘purpose’ to ‘advance’ their political careers – ‘not for what’s best’ for nursing home residents and the county.  Yes, I ‘agree’ with their statements that ‘they represent’ taxpayers, but ‘we (Union-represented workforce) are taxpayers too,’” she told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper.

International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17 Business Manager Gary Swain - a Machias resident - also attended the hearing and addressed county legislators, telling them: “It’s a ‘pretty sad day’ when our politicians ‘don’t take care of our elders’ - and ‘instead put the value of the almighty dollar in front of’ our mothers, fathers and family members.”

“Cattaraugus County is ‘very poor,’” Swain told WNYLaborToday.com in a telephone interview after last week’s hearings.  “This is ‘more’ to ‘turn a profit’ than to ‘care for people’ and I’m ‘disappointed’ they would consider something like this.  And the jobs of the people employed at The Pines are ‘good-paying’ jobs.  If the two nursing homes are privatized, the Workers that are employed there are going to be paid ‘a lot less’ for sure.”

Cattaraugus-Allegany AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Anna Geronimo, who also heads the New York State United Teachers’ (NYSUT) Southwestern New York Regional Office in Jamestown (which is located in the next door county of Chautauqua), attended the hearings. 

She told WNYLaborToday.com she was not happy with the positions taken by Democratic Legislators Giardini and Susan Labuhn (Salamanca).

“Sue is a former teacher and Giardini is a Union Laborer.  (Both) ‘should know better.’  They ‘did not take any’ questions (from those who spoke publicly at the hearings) and ‘they didn’t take into consideration’ the ‘additional burden’ of ‘losing’ such good-paying jobs will put on the county.  This will not be a ‘benefit.’  (If the county opts to privatize the homes,) They are going to turn those good-paying jobs into ‘fast food level’ jobs.” Geronimo said.

WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note, for More on This Labor News Story, Read The Olean Times Herald Report at: www.oleantimesherald.com/news/nursing-home-employees-protest-selling-facilities/article_384a902c-4f02-11e6-b669-8b648e28582e.html#.V5DOFjMmkcw.facebook

 

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