On Friday, The New York Times released a follow-up report, revealing that only 25% of NY state home-workers found guilty of abusing disabled and mentally ill patients are terminated from their positions.
The majority of workers found guilty of physical, sexual or psychological abuse receive written warnings, deduction of vacation days, or suspension; 25% of those found guilty are sent to other state-run homes.
The Time’s original investigation began over two and a half years ago, when they started exposing the quality of state-run care in over 2,000 New York homes for the disabled and mentally ill.
When Governor Cuomo (D-NY) was re-elected in 2010, he vowed to address this problem and make state workers more accountable. However, the review found “no discernible progress” made over the past two and a half years.
The cases uncovered by The Times are disturbing and truly harrowing. A few examples from the most recent report:
“One state worker bit a patient’s ear.
Another sent threatening text messages to a female co-worker, according to state records, including one that said: “I’m gonna gut you like a fish blondie. Don’t even try to call the police.”
A third, a nurse, left a patient naked and bleeding from a head injury on a bathroom floor, soaking in his own feces.
And a fourth knocked a group home resident out of a chair, hit the resident on the back of the head and squirted water from a bottle in the resident’s face.”
All of these employees were found guilty in internal disciplinary hearings; none of the employees were fired.
Why do 75% of state-workers found guilty of abuse retain their jobs? Why hasn’t Governor Cuomo come to the defense of the disabled and mentally ill?
The answer is (tragically) not surprising—the toxic relationship between left-leaning government officials and the public employee unions has protected abusive state-workers from getting fired or facing prosecution.
According to The Times, state employees working is disabled homes are rarely fired due to:
“Weaknesses in the arbitration process, the permissive attitude of state officials and the aggressive stance of public sector labor unions — particularly the Civil Service Employees Association.”
They also noted that, “one reason for the low dismissal rate is the wide latitude given to arbitrators who decide many cases, and who have a history of siding with the union.”
That’s right, The Civil Service Employees Association, one of the most powerful public employee unions in Albany, “(contests) just about every charge leveled at a worker… (creating) a system in which firings of even the most abusive employees are rare.” The union’s cozy relationship with government officials and arbitrators prevent state reform that would benefit the vulnerable and victimized, and ensure that public employees found guilty of violent crimes are never fully reprimanded for their actions.
By the way--Governor Cuomo struck a deal with the CSEA six months after he was re-elected on the platform that he would address the issue of abuse. The deal included “CSEA protection from broad layoffs,” as well as the implementation of a new “Select Panel on Patient Abuse” to specifically protect the disabled and mentally ill. Two years later, CSEA employees have avoided layoffs, and the man appointed by Cuomo to lead the Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs has a record of lobbying against employee accountability, and actually “lobbied against Jonathan’s Law, the legislation that forced the state to start disclosing abuse reports to parents, named after a teenager with autism who died after being asphyxiated by a state worker.” Meanwhile, the record for firing employees guilty of abuse remains at an abysmal 25%.
I wonder who got the better end of that ‘deal?’