1199SEIU Statement on AG Lawsuit Against Villages at OrleansDecember 1, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of Grace Bogdanove, Vice-President for WNY Nursing Homes of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, nation’s largest healthcare union:
“We commend AG James for investigating and exposing for-profit nursing home operators who profit from taxpayer monies at the expense of resident care. The allegations outlined in this lawsuit are appalling and tragic yet all too familiar to nursing home workers who experience the impact of resources being funneled away from the bedside and into the owner’s pockets.
These findings underscore the importance of recent NY nursing home reform laws which bring greater transparency and oversight to the industry. We call for full accountability for all nursing homeowners who continue to violate the law or fail to prioritize quality care and safe staffing for our residents.”
ON BACKGROUND: 1199SEIU does not represent workers at Villages of Orleans however, several owners identified in yesterday’s lawsuit also own or operate nursing homes that are represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
New York State’s nursing home reforms were long overdue and the COVID-19 pandemic exposed problems in nursing homes, including low wages and poor staffing levels. Comprehensive at Williamsville faced many issues during and after the pandemic. New York State’s nursing home reforms focus on improving staffing levels and increasing owner’s spending on bed-side caregivers to provide for residents. The new staffing spending portion of the law requires that nursing home owners spend 70% of their revenue on direct care to residents, 40% of that is to be spent on staffing the facility.,
1199SEIU represents 100 union nursing home workers at Comprehensive at Williamsville whose current contract is set to expire December 31, 2022. The current collective bargaining agreement covers Licensed Practical Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, Dietary Aides, Laundry Aide, Maintenance Workers, Environmental Services Aide, Receptionist, Cooks, Rehabilitation Aides, and Unit Secretaries.
In recent months, 1199SEIU sent Comprehensive at Williamsville a request to bargain and the employer has failed to respond with dates to negotiate a new agreement with workers. 1199SEIU was forced to file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the owners in February and October for violating the current labor agreement. 1199SEIU alleges that the owners made unilateral changes without the union’s knowledge which violates the current collective bargaining agreement in place.
1199SEIU also filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as the multi-level facility in Williamsville lacked a functioning elevator for approximately six months. The union alleges that the lack of a working elevator in a multi-level building creates dangerous working conditions for employees and essentially traps residents on their floors. Workers joined together to fight for the repairs. Members complained to management and held a march on the boss. The elevator was repaired this month. Outcomes for the case with the NLRB and OSHA are still pending.
Some of the owners of Comprehensive at Williamsville are named as defendants in the Attorney General’s lawsuit against Villages of Orleans. According to US Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, last updated October 1, 2022, the defendants named in the lawsuit who are also owners of Comprehensive at Williamsville are: Joshua Farkovits, Sam Halper, Teresa Lichtschein, David Gast, Debbie Korngut and Ephram Lahasky.
Relatives of defendants involved in the lawsuit hold ownership interest at three other area facilities where workers are represented by the union. 1199SEIU represents 60 members at Safire of the Northtowns and 100 members at Williamsville Suburban.
According to 2020 NYS Department of Health Cost Reports, embattled nursing home owner Benjamin Landa holds 32% ownership interest in South Union Rd, LLC which owns both the land and building at Williamsville Suburban. Landa and his wife Judy previously owned Emerald South Nursing Home in Buffalo where two residents died.
In the southern tier, 1199SEIU represents 85 nursing home workers at Wellsville Manor whose owners have potential relatives involved in the Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Villages of Orleans.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. We represent over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all. https://www.1199seiu.org
 New York State Department of Health, 2020 RHCF-4 Cost Reports, Williamsville Suburban LLC (# 1421306), Prefatory-3, Ownership Information Tangible Property (column 9107), and Prefatory 4, Corporate Stockholders (column 9111).