CSEA Heads to Mediation Session with Monroe County Aug 17

zIMG_8879

Monroe County Probation Officers show up in force at a Fair Contract Rally at Monroe County Office Building, Aug 9. Photo Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2016

Rochester— Unlike Monroe County bureaucrats, the members of CSEA have always been willing to sit down at the negotiating table and work out an appropriate deal that would be in the best interest of residents and the employees of Monroe County. We are looking forward to a mediation session scheduled for Wednesday morning, August 17 facilitated by a representative from the NYS Public Employee Relations Board. CSEA is cautiously optimistic about making progress this week.

The fact remains Monroe County has not bargained in good faith as they report—if they did nearly 1,800 CSEA Monroe County Employees would have not filed for contract impasse with PERB; we wouldn’t have six out of eight bargaining units without contracts; we wouldn’t have thousands of workers who report not having a valid contract in more than three years. Not ratifying contracts in a timely manner has also put unnecessary burdens on our community and our worker families. Employees also report morale has never been lower while at the same time, they are losing complete faith in how we do business here in Monroe County.

Our community is beginning to finally understand and make the connection when workers do not have the tools, resources or the ability to be successful on the job or in life, which comes with a fair contract, everyone suffers– mostly taxpayers. You don’t have to look any further than what happened with the Road Patrol Officers Unit, where a recent mass exodus of 41 public safety officers has adversely affected the ability of the department to properly operate because the county refused to negotiate a fair deal. A potent and healthy workforce is vital to everyone’s quality of life and it will build a stronger community.

Additionally, after workers declare a contract impasse with an employer, the Taylor Law does not inhibit nor should it prevent the County from answering direct questions from employees, the media or the general public. The objective of the rally on August 9 in front of the Monroe County Office Building was to hold our elected officials accountable and to exercise our right to petition our government for redress of grievances without fear of punishment or reprisals guaranteed by the first amendment of the US Constitution. It was also an opportunity to tell the public at large—we have serious concerns about how our tax dollars are being spent. This County administration has not been living up to its campaign promises of transparency and accountability. We are still waiting for these “talking points” to pay dividends for the people of Monroe County.

Monroe County communications director William Napier responded in a statement to the media, saying in part, “The union’s health insurance benefits are unsustainable, so the county asked unions to make health insurance concessions in exchange for raises.” The fact is what is unsustainable is the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars to an outsourced law firm (Harris Beach, a top donor to the local GOP), and not using qualified lawyers who are already employed in the County Law Department. For several years in a row, taxpayer dollars have been needlessly wasted on using this law firm. These same tax dollars could have prevented the loss of 41 experienced law enforcement officers and settled nearly all the costing out calculations of every contract the county negotiates.