One of the key functions of a union leader is to fight for members’ jobs and wages, so we suppose it’s appropriate that the union representing workers at Saratoga County’s Maplewood Manor nursing home has decided to sue over plans to sell the facility to a private operator. For taxpayers’ sake, though, we hope the effort fails — and soon.
In its suit, the Civil Service Employees Association has cited what seems like a petty technical issue involving the county’s effort to unload the money-losing nursing home: its creation of a local development corporation to assume ownership of the home before it is put on the market.
CSEA attorneys have argued that LDCs’ traditional function is to promote local economic development, not sell real estate. And while that may be true, it also seems inarguable that promoting economic development is easier when you have low property taxes. The nursing home has been causing taxes to rise in recent years, and if the sale doesn’t go through, officials forecast a 20 percent tax increase next year! Not too good for economic development.
As for the union’s argument that the nursing home is needed, and thus shouldn’t be sold: Maybe that would be true if the facility were going to be closed, but if the sale agreement stipulates that the new owner must run it as a nursing home, what’s the problem?
The union’s answer, of course, is that the new owner may not be obligated to keep the facility’s current employees, and certainly won’t be obligated to pay them the wages they’ve grown accustomed to — the very ones that have been helping create the facility’s financial woes. But it will never admit as much. Like the state teacher’s union that’s suing over the 2 percent tax cap (which has forced school districts to cut positions and limit wage and benefit hikes), CSEA wants everyone to think it’s looking out for the public’s interests.
The public’s real interest is in a more efficient nursing home operation — the kind an experienced, private operator can provide just as well as the county can. It’s bad enough the union wants to get in the way of that, but even worse that it’s going to saddle taxpayers with the legal bills.