WITH THE THREAT OF LOSING THEIR HEALTH BENEFITS LOOMING, LIVINGSTON HILLS NURSING HOME WORKERS WILL HOLD CANDLELIGHT VIGILNovember 30, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2020
FOR TUESDAY EVENT, DECEMBER 1, 2020 AT 3PM
Contact: Mindy Berman | 518.229.0486
A MOBILE BILLBOARD, ASKING FOR THE COMMUNITY’S SUPPORT HAS BEEN TRAVELING AROUND THE AREA
Livingston Hills Nursing Home workers, members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, and their supporters are critically concerned about the health of at-risk nursing home residents during the COVID pandemic, because the owner of the facility is intending to take away the health benefits of the frontline workers. To that end, they are holding a candlelight vigil, urging the owner, Jeffrey Vegh to rescind that decision. What: Candlelight Vigil for the Health of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers and Their Residents at Livingston Hills Nursing Home.
When: Tuesday, December 1: 3 p.m. to 4:00pm
Best Photo/Video available at this time during shift change, however, interviews available throughout the day at 518-229-0486
Where: Livingston Hills Nursing & Rehab Center, 2781 Route 9, Livingston, NY
Who: Nursing home workers, members of 1199SEIU, and supporters including local elected officials.
THIS IS A COVID-SAFE, SOCIALLY-DISTANCED, OUTDOOR ACTIVITY. ALL PARTICIPANTS ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR A MASK AND STAND AT LEAST SIX FEET APART.
We are living in a global pandemic, where healthcare workers are critical to treating and caring for seriously-ill COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 has hit frail and elderly nursing home residents and their caregivers especially hard. They put themselves at risk every day.
Without affordable health benefits, dedicated caregivers are going to have no option other than to leave their residents and work at facilities that provide health benefits they are able to afford. They should not be forced to choose between keeping themselves and their families healthy and continuing to care for the residents they love.
What happened in contract negotiations? At a recent negotiations session with the employer, even after hearing the healthcare challenges many 1199SEIU Livingston Hills members and their families face, and how their current health benefits are critical to their getting the medical care they need, the employer told the union they will not agree to maintain those benefits. Instead, they made clear that they intend to force on them health benefits that are less comprehensive, and not affordable, essentially leaving frontline workers without any benefits at all. The employer’s response to the need to maintain benefits, and the workers frustration with their unwillingness to listen was to walk away from the virtual bargaining table.
BACKGROUND: For years, healthcare workers at Livingston Hills Nursing Home, right outside of Hudson, NY, lived and worked with anxiety about whether they were going to have health insurance in the upcoming month. Despite having a legally-binding collective bargaining agreement as members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, several times the employer went into arrears to the fund that provides the workers’ health insurance, putting their benefits at risk. Last spring, that fund finally challenged the nursing home’s owners and asked the Department of Health to stop providing Medicaid reimbursements to the home, until they settled their debt. An agreement was reached on April 26, 2020, which offered some relief to the stressed nursing home workers, who by that time were facing the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The reprieve didn’t last long.
As of August 31, 2020, the workers have been without a contract for a year. They have not received a raise since 2018; that was minimal and did not bring their wages to market rate.
Now, the employer is proposing to eliminate the workers’ affordable health plan and replace it with commercial insurance that has high premiums and co-pays. With wages that don’t keep up with the cost of living, most workers say they won’t be able to afford health insurance. Furthermore, the employer is saying this is an impasse.
“We are working above and beyond during the most serious healthcare crisis in recent history, we lived with anxiety for years about whether we would have health insurance because the owner didn’t pay his bills on time, we have been working without a contract for a year — exactly — and haven’t had a raise since 2018. Wanna know the appreciation we get for that? He wants to take away the health insurance we have and replace it with a plan that will surely be unaffordable to most of us.— Donna Decker, C.N.A. 1199SEIU negotiating committee member.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America.
We represent over 450,000 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.