Catania Seeks Repayment from Nursing Home Operator
An update from an old column LL wrote last year about a VMT Long Term Care, a contractor that operates the city's J.B. Johnson nursing home: Councilmember David Catania said today that he'll introduce legislation if necessary to recoup $1.8 million in city funds VMT spent to settle a dispute with the federal Department of Labor.
"I want our money back or I no longer want to do business with VMT," Catania said in a statement.
A report by the city's Inspector General detailed a labor department finding that VMT had underpaid 600 workers. VMT agreed to pay the $1.7 million in back pay and $140,000 in taxes using city money earmarked for nursing home operating costs. But the IG disagrees with VMT CEO Solange Vivens over whether the payments constitute a fine that VMT should eat or legitimate operating costs that city funds should cover.
“A fine you pay to the Department of Labor, not to the employees," Vivens told LL last year. She wasn't immediately available today for comment. Vivens has long been the target of scorn from the Service Employees International Union for her anti-union efforts. Some of VMT's workers have complained of low pay and poor working conditions.
The IG noted that one tricky irony: At the very same time VMT was arguing that it would be "driven into ruin" if it had to cover the $1.8 million, it paid Vivens, its sole shareholder, $1.8 million. The city's Office of the Attorney General has notified Catania that it's trying to recoup the $1.8 million; the case is currently before the Contact Appeals Board, according to Catania's office.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery