John J. Foley Nursing home in Yaphank. (April 9, 2013)

John J. Foley Nursing home in Yaphank. (April 9, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

Ten Suffolk legislators urged the union representing workers of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility Thursday to reschedule a critical vote on whether to privatize the facility that was canceled earlier this week.

In a letter sent to County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees president Dan Farrell, Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said a deal that would privatize the 246-bed facility in Yaphank by leasing it to private operators "must be presented to the Foley employees for their up or down vote as soon as possible. There is no reason for delay."

On Tuesday, the union's 180 Foley employees had been scheduled to vote on a deal to drop a lawsuit against Bellone that was aimed at blocking the $23 million sale of the facility to private operators Israel and Samuel Sherman.

Farrell canceled the vote, putting the blame on two other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) and John M. Kennedy (R-Nesconset), for not signing a contract before the vote to drop out of the lawsuit. Both have said their decision to withdraw from the suit would be based on the outcome of the vote.

Several employees indicated Tuesday that there may not have been enough votes for the deal to pass because some 100 nurses agreed to vote against it.

Farrell said Thursday evening that he had not received a copy of the letter and needed to consult with the union's legal advisers to determine the union's next step. Farrell said that, if a vote were to be rescheduled, the earliest it could happen was "late next week."

"I've said all along I believe the union members should have a vote to decide their fate," he said.

Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said the county would not "interfere with internal union operations" in urging for a vote, but said the letter "makes very clear that this [deal] represents the only alternative to closure. This is the end of the line."

The letter was also signed by Deputy Presiding Officer Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), Majority Leader DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) and the following legislators: Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), Lou D'Amaro (D-North Babylon), Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), William Spencer (D-Centerport), Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), Tho-mas Barraga (R-West Islip) and Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).

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