MAYVILLE – The President of the union that works at the Chautauqua County Home says he heard some positive things from a group of buyers who want to buy the skilled nursing facility, but they also left a few of his questions unanswered.
CSEA Chautauqua County Unit President Steve Skidmore represents the 280 employees who work at the county home in Dunkirk and who are fighting to keep the facility publicly owned by the county. Skidmore says that while representatives from VestraCare said that they would employee the same number of employees, if not more, while also providing similar wages, he said the didn’t guarantee the current employees would be able to keep their jobs.
He also said the representatives were not clear about a possible tax break they would be getting from the county for $1 million in upgrades that are included in the proposed contract. “It’s right in this agreement that they will get a million dollar PILOT program from the IDA, so when they say they’re going to spend a million dollars to improve the Chautauqua County Home, they’re going to spend IDA money and taxpayers money to improve the home. That’s not their money.”
The county legislature will be acting Feb. 26 on the sale of the home for $16 million to VestraCare. In the meantime, Skidmore says he will continue to try and persuade lawmakers that selling the home would be the wrong decision.
The Post-Journal reported earlier this month that about 170 employees signed a petition saying they’d be willing to break from the union and re-negotiate a contract with the county to find a way to reduce costs and keep the facility publicly owned. Skimdore says he is aware of that effort, but also says the union has been willing to make concessions throughout the process.
“They weren’t positive the union was doing enough to negotiate the changes,” Skinner explained. “But two years ago the we tried to talk with Greg Edwards and he refused at every letter we sent to him. He never would sit down and negotiate… I doubt that [Vince] Horrigan is going to do that just because he’s going to worry about the sale first. If the sale doesn’t go through then we’ll sit down with him.”
On Feb. 5, Edward Farbenblum and Shannon Cayea-Delker from VestraCare talked with the legislature for an hour-and-a-half about their new offer to buy the county home. While some lawmakers appear to be against the sale, it looks as though the proposal would have enough of the 13 votes needed in order for it to go forward.