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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Town Employees Vote No to New Contract

The unionized employees in town hall represented by UPSEU have voted 10-4 not to accept a new contract offered by the town board. This is the same crew that has been taking advantage of town taxpayers with insurance buyouts from employees who were never in the insurance to begin with and others who are supposed to be management employees and are instead in bed with the rank in file workers as members of their union.

With the fiscal crisis and deficit of $171,000 on the minds of taxpayers and town board members alike, there appears a strong likelihood of significant layoffs. Now justified not only by the deficit but by the greed exemplified by a majority of these employees, many of who's services have been questioned as unnecessary to begin with. One unionized employee told the Pipeline that "We've handed the town board all they need to cut jobs in town hall by not agreeing to the contract." On the other hand, all they needed to justify immediate job cuts was the fiscal crisis and with this reckless action by the majority of the employees, many board members will compelled to move quickly as each day no one is cut, adds to the deficit proportionately.

High on the list for job elimination will be Building Department employees such as the clearly unnecessary Utilities Inspector who was a political hire of former Councilman Robert Ashe and whose job was created to inspect work on Water District 14. That's a quick $45,000 savings that is re-occurring, a permanent savings each year. Also on the list is that second Fire Marshall who is also a full time Troy Fireman enjoying insurance benefits from the taxpayers of Troy while taking a family size buy out here in North Greenbush from a policy he never participated in. He is also allowed to work four 10 hour days so he can accomplish the double dipping, a practiced the Town Board would be wise to end so that the employee might be forced to choose which full time job to stay with.

Double dipping at taxpayer expense is out of control in town hall under this contract. Another employee engaged in the practice is state retiree John Harkin who gets health insurance from the state and grabs a free buy out here thanks to the mindless contract provision. You may recall Harkin's last job in town hall was as an appointed Councilman making about $6,000 annually. He is now the appointed Assessor at over $45,000 annually. His waiver from the State allows him to get his full salary and his full pension thanks in part to a quiet advertising of his position that prevented a sincere and thorough search for a qualified replacement.

Changing the contract and eliminating this insurance buy out giveaway should be a priority for the town board but clearly not the employees. Also, the board should end managers participation in the union. As it stands two department heads, Building and Assessor were allowed into the union along with the rank and file. Not only is this a bad management practice but it also allowed these folks to be eligible for the insurance buy outs.

The town will act under the Taylor Law, a state law governing public employees and their contracts. The current absurd contract will stay in effect but the town can freely act to eliminate as many jobs as needed in the budget to deal with the deficit and as a secondary effect, deal with the arrogance of the unionized employees.

On this issue we believe Councilman Al Spain is largely in agreement with our prior positions on this contract and the insurance buyout provision which has put the screws to taxpayers by allowing folks never in the policy to get a 51% buyout payment that costs the town rather than save the town money.

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