MOUNT VERNON — CSEA leaders, along with supporters from across the local labor community, recently gathered to call on Mayor Richard Thomas to reinstate two workers he fired suddenly, one of whom was the CSEA unit president.

In a press conference outside City Hall, union leaders said Thomas sent a city worker to Unit President Dr. Nicholas Cicchetti’s home Dec. 31 with a letter eliminating his job at the city’s Board of Water Supply as of Jan. 1. The letter, which did not include a reason for the job elimination, came when Cicchetti was home on
pre-approved sick leave.

About a week later, Thomas fired a CSEA-represented building inspector CSEA calls Mount Vernon mayor on improper firings without cause. The nine-year employee, a licensed engineer, received no hearing date or other information despite that being the process under state law. His firing came after testifying unfavorably toward the city in a legal case after city council members called him as a witness.

CSEA is pursuing legal action in both cases.

Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo addresses the crowd. Westchester County Local President John Staino is third from right, next to Riccaldo.
Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo addresses the crowd. Westchester County Local President John Staino is third from right, next to Riccaldo.

“This blatant disregard for state law and fair workplace treatment is chilling, to say the least,” said Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo. “Mayor Thomas is showing himself as
anti-worker and is hurting city taxpayers in the process.”

Mount Vernon is often a hotbed of local politics, with Thomas’ election in 2015 coming after a heated election. Historically, though, the city’s civil servants have done their jobs without getting caught up in the political fray.

“This behavior has to stop,” said Westchester County Local President John Staino. “We have prevailed before in these cases and will do so again. Instead of being the breath of fresh air he promised to be, Mayor Thomas is disgracing City Hall.”

The state Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act, commonly known as the Taylor Law, prohibits anti-union animus. CSEA prevailed in legal action after Karen Pecora, former president of CSEA’s Westchester County Unit, was targeted for layoff because of her union activity by County Executive Rob Astorino’s administration. Pecora was reinstated to her county job and awarded back pay.

— Jessica Ladlee

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Jessica Ladlee

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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