LIVINGSTON — Livingston Hills Nursing Home employees held a candlelight vigil to discuss the importance of retaining their healthcare benefits.

About three dozen employees, union officials and supporters gathered Wednesday afternoon at the end of the Livingston Hills Nursing Home driveway and discussed the issues with proposed changes to workers health care coverage.

“It’s really outrageous that the workers are put in a situation like this,” said Greg Speller, executive vice president for the Hudson Valley Capital Division of Local 1199. “They work for not a huge wage, and they do unbelievably important work taking care of the residents here at the home. And one of the main things that allows them to stay, and incentivize them to stay, is their really great union health benefits of the 1199 Greater New York Benefit Fund.

Speller said the 1199 Greater New York Benefit Fund provides comprehensive healthcare coverage.

“The employer has proposed to eliminate those, and essentially take away health benefits because they are, quote-un-quote offering benefits, but they are far too expensive for most of our members, so that’s why we’re out here today,” Speller said.

Workers at Livingston Hills Nursing Home have been without a contract for over a year, according to Mindy Berman, regional communications director for Local 1199 Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers East, the union that represents Livingston Hills employees.

Speller said they will be bringing in a mediator for discussions to see if a compromise can be reached between the union and Livingston Hills owners.

A large billboard truck parked near the vigil which stated, “Livingston Hills Nursing Home wants to take away employee health benefits. Do they care about at-risk residents and their dedicated caregivers?” The billboard encouraged people to call Livingston Hills owner Jeffrey Vegh and listed his phone number.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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