More than 100 Warren Haven nursing home workers get layoff notices as sale looms

Source: Steve Novak, lehighvalleylive.com, June 17, 2015

Employees at the Warren County-owned nursing home received layoff notices this week ahead of a sale of the facility that could close as soon as August. In all, 109 of Warren Haven’s “rank-and-file” were given notice over two days this week, Freeholder Director Ed Smith said Wednesday. Contracted workers did not receive a notice. The notices are part of the sale process after the county approved a $15.6 million bid for the Mansfield Township facility in May. New Jersey’s Civil Service Commission requires a 45-day notice for the employees it covers. Freeholders had asked bidders on the property to consider retaining current staff, a possibility that still remains, Smith said. The bid, submitted by a group call WH Holdings, was awarded at the freeholders’ meeting May 13. At that meeting, a Warren Haven employee asked County Administrator Steve Marvin about the timeline for the sale….

Related:
Freeholder Director explains Warren Haven email leaked to press
Source: Emily Cummins, The Warren Reporter, July 24, 2014

Warren County Freeholders stated in an email sent to union officials last week, that the county has “serious doubts” regarding the feasibility of cost-saving measures suggested to save Warren Haven. ” …. “When we had had earlier discussions, we said we were not going to negotiate this in the newspaper,” Freeholder Director Ed Smith said today in response to an article by The Express-Times, stating that he was caught off guard by the distribution of the email. Outlining when negotiations began with the union, Smith said that discussions have been limited. Following a conceptual plan from AFSCME Council 73 that would, according to their research, save the county $2.5 to $3 million by increasing revenues and lowering labor costs, the county’s labor counsel determined that the suggestions were implausible, Smith said….

Warren Haven nursing home sale appears imminent, freeholders say
Source: Edward Sieger, Express-Times, July 23, 2014

In a letter to union officials last week, Warren County gave its clearest signal yet that officials plan to sell the county-run nursing facility. “Warren County continues to maintain that it is in the best interests of both resident care and taxpayers to have a clean break with the Warren Haven Nursing Home,” according to a letter from county labor attorney J. Andrew Kinsey to union officials. The letter was obtained by The Express-Times. The comments came in response to a proposal from AFSCME Council 73 aimed at increasing revenues and lowering labor costs at Warren Haven in an effort to stave off a sale to a private owner. …. The union’s proposal sought to maintain jobs and salaries while ridding the county of pension and health care costs, according to Meara.

LETTER: Warren County’s elderly deserve support, ‘home’
Source: Letters to the Editor, Express Times, July 23, 2014

…Many families are physically unable to care for a wheelchair-bound adult who requires bathing, diapers, feeding, medications and some form of socialization. Some have no families to care for them. The elderly in Warren County pay or have paid taxes, including school taxes, but perhaps have not saved enough to privately pay out close to $100,000 a year for a private nursing home. They do not benefit from the school taxes they pay but as part of a community they support the need for the children in their community. Then why shouldn’t they receive the same support?…

Warren County freeholders, labor leaders talk potential concessions at Warren Haven
Source: Sarah Peters, Express-Times, July 8, 2014
 
Union leaders who hope to spare Warren Haven, the county-owned nursing home, from privatization floated a rough proposal to county officials early last week.  The two sides came to the table July 1 for their first discussion on possible labor concessions, which the Warren Haven Advisory Committee suggested should be complete by March 31. Leaders from both sides were reluctant to discuss details in accordance with an agreement they made not to negotiate through the media.  Gerard Meara, executive director of AFSCME Council 73, said the union presented a comprehensive proposal to Freeholder Director Ed Smith, County Administrator Steve Marvin and the county’s labor attorney. He said he hopes to know better what their intentions are when they sit down again at a to-be-scheduled meeting….

Warren County freeholders move toward sale of Warren Haven, despite public objections
Source: Sarah Peters, Express-Times, June 25, 2014

Warren County freeholders unanimously voted tonight to hire a company to market and sell Warren Haven over the objections of county residents and nursing home employees. Residents packed the meeting room to its 65-person capacity, and the crowd spilled over into the vestibule and out the doors of the county administration building tonight. During a lengthy public comment, most begged officials to keep the nursing home under full county control….

GUEST COLUMN: Warren County waging a war on the elderly
Source: CJ Van Gieson, Express-Times, June 18, 2014

In less than one year, using any and every excuse imaginable, the Warren County Freeholders have systematically targeted institutions, facilities and programs serving the elderly. They’ve used deceit and backroom finagling to bring Warren Haven to its knees, blaming peer group funding losses, AFSCME union benefits, and finally callouts by nursing staff to justify freezing admissions. They even deceived the public about the New Jersey First Act which, although it preserves jobs for New Jersey residents, allows out-of-state hiring in hardship cases. Taxpaying elderly, handicapped and veterans seeking respite at Warren Haven are now directed to privatized nursing homes in Phillipsburg, turned away from the familiar place where they’d hoped to live out their days….

Warren County, unions meet to discuss future of Warren Haven nursing home
Source: Edward Sieger, Express-Times, April 6, 2014

Following a few tense weeks that saw Warren County freeholders and union officials publicly spar over the future of Warren Haven, the two sides finally sat down for what was described as a productive meeting. … Since an advisory committee issued suggestions for keeping Warren Haven in county hands, union leaders and freeholders have traded barbs over the report, sick time usage at the facility and the fact that the two sides had yet to meet face to face by March 31 as recommended by the committee. Smith said none of those issues came up Friday as the two sides held a “very reasoned discussion.” County officials explained they want to maintain a publicly owned facility but laid out the parameters necessary to achieve that goal, he said. The two sides also briefly discussed what other services Warren Haven could offer in an effort to increase revenues, Smith said. … Freeholders recently instructed county staff to begin procuring the professional services necessary to sell Warren Haven. Smith said the issue did not come up during Friday’s meeting, and that union negotiations can move on a parallel track with the preliminary stages of what would be a lengthy sale process. …

Warren Haven union blasts county over nursing home recommendations
Source: Edward Sieger, Express-Times, March 5, 2014

Union officials representing Warren Haven employees are accusing the county of just using the specter of labor costs as an excuse to privatize the county-owned nursing home. “If you want to close the facility and look for a bad guy, don’t put that burden on the employees, many of whom have spent their entire working lives at the facility,” said Gerard Meara, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 73. … AFSCME Locals 671 and 3287, which fall under Council 73, represent staff at Warren Haven and other county employees. The Warren Haven Advisory Committee last month released recommendations for keeping the nursing home under county ownership, the most significant of which is labor concessions….

Labor union reps disagree with Freeholders on how to save Warren Haven
Source: Emily Cummins, Warren Reporter, March 5, 2014

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a labor union representing Warren Haven’s workers, issued a press release today that calls into question the report and subsequent recommendations made by the Warren County Advisory Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 11.”The report unfairly targets workers, and even speculates about ways to dismantle their union… The committee’s first and most decisive recommendation is to seek significant concessions from workers,” state representatives for AFSCME state in the release…

Editorial: It’s time for serious discussion about selling Warren Haven, Warren County’s nursing home
Source: Express-Times March 5, 2014

The future of Warren Haven, Warren County’s nursing home, is now officially on the clock. Armed with the recommendations of the Warren Haven Advisory Committee, the county freeholders have challenged the union representing workers to sit down and negotiate concessions on salary, health care costs and pension benefits — with the stipulation that significant progress be made by March 31. …

Warren County residents plead for creative solution to financial woes at Warren Haven
Source: Sarah Peters, Express-Times, November 06, 2013

Warren Haven residents, their family members and caretakers pleaded with an advisory committee tonight to find an imaginative solution to privatizing the county-owned nursing home. … A few years ago, the county received $232 per bed per day in Medicaid reimbursement, Olshefski said. Today, the county receives $214, and the rate will drop again to $190 July 1, he said. Privately-paying residents are charged a break-even rate of $285 a day, Olshefski said. Nursing homes around the country, including Gracedale in Northampton County, are facing similar issues, Olshefski said. Unlike their neighbors, Warren County freeholders are limited by the state’s 2 percent cap in how much they can raise in taxes, he said. …

…County residents also asked freeholders to consider a referendum that asks taxpayers whether the county should maintain ownership of Warren Haven similar to a Gracedale ballot question Northampton County voters approved two years ago….

Warren County freeholders privatize some Warren Haven services; workers to be laid-off
Source: Andrew George, Express-Times, March 27, 2013

Warren County freeholders voted unanimously tonight to privatize laundry, housekeeping and dietary services at Warren Haven, a decision that effectively lays off 54 full-time, six part-time and three supervisory staff members. The county will award contracts – $845,000 for laundry and housekeeping services and $1.51 million for dietary services – to Bucks County-based Healthcare Services Group, Inc., which will take over effective July 1….