CSEA workers, the union that endorsed Democrat Ron Johnson for county executive, have yet to prove they are serious about concessions to keep the Chautauqua County Home under government control.
With the exception of about three months in the last 18, the Chautauqua County Legislature and County Executive Greg Edwards have made it clear they are continuing on a path to find a buyer for the facility. The most recent potential buyer, Richard Platschek, who is majority owner for three Erie County long-term care facilities, has offered $16.5 million for the Home.
So, where has the CSEA been in the meantime? Other than offering lip service by talking about taking concessions, the union has not publicly come forward with any plan.
Wages and benefits for employees, even their candidate Johnson admits, will have to be restructured if the Home is to remain a county entity. The Center for Government Research report, which was a waste of county money and time, said the same thing.
Since 2002, wages at the Home have increased 22 percent. Benefits, however, are the real devil of the details. Over that same time, benefit expenses have increased 123 percent.
Can you say unsustainable?
Sixty-seven percent of the Home budget is made up of salaries and benefits. That plays a huge role in the County Home running a deficit.
So, do all the nickel and diming you want on the expense side; when it comes to the Home losing money, the big chunk of it is due to the generous salary and benefit packages workers receive.
Can the county keep the Home and run it without a deficit? According to some, it can. But, almost everyone agrees, the union has to be a part of the solution.
CSEA, in the big picture, is not even at the table yet.