By JOSEPH J. CARRUS
Referring to the Publisher's notebook in the OBSERVER (March 23) "Emotions key to Home campaign," you attacked CSEA's request of pay raises and the failure of CSEA to grant "concessions" at the Home.
The CSEA union did grant concessions. I have their proposals to County Executive Greg Edwards before me as I write. The union offered in February 2012 to make it a four-year contract with the following changes:
Longevity checks and step increments would alternate years. Employees entitled to longevity checks (eligibility is achieved after 10 full years of service) would received them every other year rather than yearly as in the current contract. Step increments would alternate years, also.
CSEA agreed to Tier 3 prescription prices.
Agreed to give up layoff language.
Agreed to options of insurance choices for the existing Preferred Provider Insurance or high deductible Insurance paid for by employees.
No wage increase for 2012 or 2013.
A 3 percent increase for 2014 and then again in 2015.
Negotiations are at an impasse.
I feel that the CSEA union proposals are reasonable at a time when government people, corporation executives and athletes are not cutting their salaries, in spite of a failing economy.
The CSEA has helped the aides and personnel at the Home attain a decent wage. What price do you put on care for the vulnerable? The elderly? The disabled? Some of these people have handicaps. Some have fallen victim to Alzheimer's disease. Some have simply fallen prey to old age. These people are our mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, co-workers ... people who have paid taxes all their lives!
On my nursing unit, 2A, at the Home where I reside there may be up to 44 residents at any given time with only four aides to provide care. That means one aide must care for more than 10 residents! What wage would you pay them? Aren't they entitled to a living wage?
Why are we trying so hard to keep our County Home as is and not sold to a for-profit buyer? A recent study, dated Nov. 29, 2011, shows that the nation's largest for-profit nursing homes have a lower quality of care due to fewer staff nurses and aides as compared to non-profit or government owned nursing homes. That's the finding of a new UCSF led analysis of quality of care in nursing homes around the country. This study focused on staffing and quality of care at 10 of the largest for-profit chains.
The proposal/stipulations for the buyers of the Home to safeguard care will be discarded after the purchase of the Chautauqua County Home; the buyers will do what they want in order to make a profit. Who's going to be the "watchdog" to see that the proposals are kept? Furthermore, even if the Home is sold there will be no tax cuts, according to Greg Edwards, County Executive.
If God is with us to keep the Home as-is, who is against us?
Joseph J. Carrus is president of Resident Council of the Chautauqua County Home.