Supervisor Frank Del Gallo defied a Town Board directive and now faces claims of workplace harassment after he ordered four civil service workers to return to their recently changed posts Tuesday morning.
Members of the Town Board passed a resolution Monday overturning Del Gallo’s decision to shuffle three typists and an account specialist between Rotterdam’s various offices. But on Tuesday morning, Del Gallo sent an e-mail to each of the four female employees ordering them back to the offices he selected for them last month.
“Your compliance with this directive is expected and appreciated,” he wrote in the message.
All four workers subsequently filed the workplace harassment charges through the local chapter of CSEA Tuesday. Conard Johnson, the president of Rotterdam’s CSEA chapter, was incensed by the supervisor’s move.
“[Del Gallo] thinks he’s a dictator,” Johnson said. “He thinks he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants regardless of protocol or procedure.”
Board member Nicola DiLeva was equally aggravated by Del Gallo’s apparent disregard for the resolution she helped to pass during a special meeting Monday evening.
“We put these girls back because it was the right thing to do, not to go against the supervisor,” she said.
The abrupt reversal prompted confusion among the four employees, who were under the belief that they were to report to their original posts as directed by the board’s resolution. One of the workers reportedly left work sick after becoming distraught over the crossed signals she received from the board and Del Gallo.
Both Del Gallo and Deputy Supervisor Robert Godlewski abstained from voting on the resolution Monday. Repeated calls to Del Gallo and Godlewski were not returned Tuesday.
The three typists and an account specialist each filed a trio of grievances against the town last month protesting the moves. They claimed they were moved to different positions within the town without explanation, without regard for their qualifications and without consideration for the hours they normally work.
Molly Collins, who worked more than seven years as typist at the Rotterdam Senior Center, was moved to a vacancy within the town’s Justice Court even though she has no experience in the legal field and will likely retire shortly after she completes her training. Cindy Dumar, who worked as a typist with the town’s Department of Public Works, was moved into Collins’ position at the senior center, despite having some training as a paralegal.
Diane Martin, who was employed as a typist in the supervisor’s office, was moved into Dumar’s position at public works. Donna Larson, formerly an account specialist in the Highway Department, was moved to Martin’s typist position in the supervisor’s office.
The decision to move Collins drew a strong rebuke from Rotterdam’s elderly population. Roughly 150 senior citizens signed a petition last month protesting her move to the justice court.
Johnson said the board’s resolution Monday would have resolved the outstanding grievances. But now, he said, the matter is likely to go before an arbitrator, which will likely cost the town upward of $6,500 per complaint.
“All of these issues could have been prevented if they included the union, the employees and the Town Board together to discuss what they wanted to do [with the moves],” he said. “Instead they’re showing outright arrogance and disrespect for the union and its employees.”
DiLeva said any costs incurred by the changes should be footed by Del Gallo himself. She said his refusal to reverse his initial directive has led to a counterproductive atmosphere in town offices and is undermining the morale of the workers.
“These girls have suffered enough,” she said. “Every day, they’re having to look over their shoulders.”