To the editor:

The Livingston Hills Nursing Home healthcare workers are in a critical struggle to maintain affordable healthcare coverage.

They are essential workers on the frontline of the pandemic. They show up every day to take care of frail and elderly residents to keep them healthy and safe. Anyone who has, or had, an elderly friend or family member in a nursing home is grateful for the care and peace of mind they provide. With staff shortages and the pandemic raging, they are working even more hours. Their own health is at greater risk and comprehensive and affordable healthcare coverage is critical.

The workers and their union, 1199SEIU United Health Care Workers East, are in contract negotiations with the employer, Jeffrey Vegh of Long Island, and his attorney. The key issue is affordable health insurance. Currently, they get healthcare coverage through the 1199 Greater NY Health Fund. Negotiations have dragged on for over a year because Mr. Vegh insists on an inferior and unaffordable healthcare plan with co-pays and a high monthly contribution that would be financially stressful, if not prohibitive, for the modestly paid employees.

Many workers stay at Livingston Hills because of the excellent healthcare coverage, despite the modest pay. If it is taken away, there will be more staff turnover which could lead to less-than-optimal care. Mr. Vegh, a remote owner who lives comfortably in Long Island, seems not to care about the employees or the residents. He has even threatened to declare an “impasse,” so he could unilaterally impose his inferior and more costly plan.

Indivisible Columbia New York urges the community to support the workers. We need to make a noise loud enough for Mr. Vegh to hear in Long Island. Tell him that the workers must keep their health benefits so they can keep themselves and their families healthy – and keep the nursing home residents healthy and safe. Leave a message for Mr. Vegh at the nursing home - by phone at 518-851-3041, email him c/o dkraft@livingstonhills.com, or send a letter or postcard to him at Livingston Hills Nursing Home, 2781 U.S. 9, Hudson, NY 12534.

In solidarity,

ICNY Steering Committee: Harry Franklin, Alan Gelb, Brenda Gevertz, Elizabeth Hess, Judith Katten, Pamela Kline, Jeffrey Lick, Michael Robbins

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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