New Owners of Lakeside Nursing Home in Ithaca Force Workers to Reapply for Jobs; Lower Wages, Lose Pensions

Workers at Lakeside Nursing Home in Ithaca announced Tuesday (supported by their union SEIU1199, Assemblyperson Barbara Lifton; Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson; Pastor Rich Rose of the First Baptist Church in Ithaca, the Workers’ Center, families of residents, and various community organizations) their intention to fight requirements by the new owners of Lakeside, the Peregrine Health Management Company. Healthcare workers have been told they must reapply for jobs, will have their wages lowered, and lose retirement pensions when Peregrine, take over as owners on November 1st.

The workers at Lakeside (to be renamed Cayuga Ridge LLC) demand that Peregrine guarantee the jobs and pensions of the healthcare-givers they have employed for the past nine years. Lana Wegner-Harden, an LPN at Lakeside for the past 16 years, spoke passionately about how Lakeside workers do their best to take care of residents while dealing with chronic understaffing and high turnover among low-paid staff, said, “All we want is a fair contract. We’re tired of giving up.”

The Peregrine Health Management Company has been operating as Lakeside’s operator since 2001 (Lakeside having filed for bankruptcy), evidently long awaiting the day when they could purchase Lakeside from New York State so the profit motive could kick in. Or as former Assemblyman and present Chair of the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America, Marty Luster said, “The same people who have managed Lakeside for the past 9 years and have negotiated with these workers and reached agreements with them over that period now claim that they can’t continue unless the workers take pay and pension cuts? So that means that the only difference is that instead of a court-directed salary, the “new” owners will be making a profit and that the only rationale for demanding the givebacks by the workers is to fund that profit. In other word, the workers are being told that they must provide the profit to the owners out of their pocket.”

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