Schenectady County

Schenectady council refuses to OK contract without details

Five days after the city’s CSEA union voted to accept a new labor contract, the City Council still d

Five days after the city’s CSEA union voted to accept a new labor contract, the City Council still doesn’t have any details on what, exactly, the union was offered.

Council members had expected a briefing Monday at their committee meeting, but Mayor Gary McCarthy did not attend.

Director of Operations David Fronk, who did attend, couldn’t give them details, they said after a closed-door meeting on the topic.

Without knowing the contract, council members did not vote to accept it. That means official approval could be delayed by at least two weeks.

“We don’t know what the last offer is yet,” said Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo, who added that she wanted to approve a contract.

CSEA workers have some of the city’s lowest salaries and thus, Perazzo said, live “closest to the margin.” They’ve been waiting two years for a new contract that would bring higher raises.

“I am very anxious to get this settled,” Perazzo said, adding that the council’s approval would also give the union members “peace of mind.”

But the council simply gives negotiators parameters, within which they try to broker a deal. Sometimes those parameters get stretched in an effort to reach approval from one side, and council members said they would not approve the contract until they could see it.

Councilman Vince Riggi was critical of Fronk for not being able to brief the council.

“It was on the agenda [but] he said there was a disconnect between him and the mayor on this,” Riggi said. “I couldn’t believe it. These guys have been waiting for a contract for how long?”

Mayor Gary McCarthy said later, when reached by phone, that he had intended for Fronk to brief the council. He said he hoped to arrange a briefing during the council’s budget session on Wednesday.

Last week, in an interview with The Daily Gazette, McCarthy described the contract in general terms. It included one retroactive raise for 2014, but no raise for 2013. For upcoming years, as well as 2014, raises ranged from 1 to 2 percent. The union also agreed to changes in health insurance, which included an offer of no-copays for prescription drugs if members ordered them through a Canadian distributor.

In other business, the council discussed selling 14 Myers Alley to Building Inspector Eric Shilling. The proposed sale was approved in committee; the council will formally vote next Monday.

The house was the first to sell through the contractor rehab program in 2012, but contractor Gary Pappas walked away from it six months later without ever signing a contract with the city or paying the $10,000 sale price.

The program is designed for contractors to buy cheaply, rehab houses with their own money, and then flip them to new owners.

Shilling now plans to buy the house, invest more than $100,000 in repairs, and move in.

He has also offered the city $10,000, Riggi said.

Perazzo was enthusiastic about the deal.

“I think it’s wonderful, wonderful news,” she said.

The house was vacant and filled with garbage for years before Pappas began working on it.

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