City, DPW dispute stalled

A meeting Monday between city officials and the Amsterdam DPW union failed to yield an agreement on

A meeting Monday between city officials and the Amsterdam DPW union failed to yield an agreement on the issue of temporary employees hired to work on weekends.

AFSCME Local 1614, representing about 64 employees of the city’s Public Works Department, is losing out on work that’s being performed on weekends by part-time employees, union Vice President Anthony Leggiero said.

A meeting Monday represented the last step in the formal grievance process spelled out in the union contract, Leggiero said.

There was no progress in resolving the issue, which Leggiero said threatens the rights of workers spelled out in their contract with the city.

It was unclear exactly what was discussed in the meeting — Mayor Ann Thane and Corporation Council Gerard DeCusatis both decided not to allow The Daily Gazette to sit in on the meeting. Leggiero argued the union has the right to allow the media to attend meetings.

At issue is the work being performed by about seven part-time employees — some of whom Leggiero alleges are friends or relatives of city officials.

Leggiero said that by his reading of the bargaining agreement, part-time workers are only supposed to be helping out a full-time DPW employee, not doing their job for them.

If weekend work is required, Leggiero said, “the way to do it was to have a full-time employee come in to work.”

Part-time workers do not get benefits, Leggiero said, so the practice could be a scheme by the city administration to save money on workers’ benefits.

“Basically, it’s like bringing in a scab worker to come in and do the work for you,” Leggiero said.

“If a union allows that to happen, then the total work force could be compromised by part-time employees who they would have to pay no benefits to,” Leggiero said.

Weekend work that needs to be done includes watering flowers adorning city streets and cleaning up the bathrooms at Shuttleworth Park, Leggiero said.

He said the union suggested either hiring another full-time worker or having the seasonal workers assist a full-time DPW worker on the weekend.

Following the meeting Monday, Thane said she supports the current practice and has no intention of changing it.

“Our actions are within our rights within the collective bargaining agreement,” Thane said.

She declined further comment.

Leggiero said it’s his understanding an “improper practice” charge lodged with the state Public Employment Relations Board will lead to an arbitrator making a final decision.

Categories: Schenectady County

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