CSEA Local 818, the union representing about 480 of Fulton County’s employees, has issued a demand for arbitration to the New York Public Employment Relations Board regarding the county’s tardiness policy.
The policy was put in place by the Fulton County Board of Supervisors in October. It punishes lateness by county employees. At the time it was passed board members said the county’s contract with CSEA allows it to “establish and publish rules establishing penalties for tardiness.”
The tardiness policy spells out a discipline structure for lateness with progressively stronger penalties. If county employees are late two times in a month they receive verbal counseling. Three times gets them a written counseling memo.
Employees who are late four times in one month are labeled as being excessively, chronically or habitually tardy, and the punishment is a two-day suspension without pay the first time it happens. The second time results in a three-day suspension without pay. The third time results in a suspension for five days without pay. After the third offense, additional penalties “will be determined by the county as it deems appropriate given the circumstances of the case.”
How late an employee is also matters. Seven minutes late is punished by verbal counseling, eight minutes or more means a written memo, and loss of pay for missed time.
Michael F. Gendron, Gloversville’s 3rd Ward Supervisor and vice chairman of the board, said he supports the policy.
“I think the tardy policy is extremely fair and all we want is for our employees to come to work on time,” he said.
PERB Executive Director Anthony Zumbolo said the board will now send a list of arbitrators to both the union and the county, who will select their preferred arbitrator and send their selections back. PERB will make the final decision on who will act as the arbitrator. Zumbolo said the arbitrator will rule on whether Fulton County’s tardy policy is a violation of its contract with CSEA.
CSEA’s labor contract with Fulton County expired in 2009, but state law mandates all of the provisions of a public employee union contract remain in place until a new deal is agreed to by both sides.
CSEA Local 818 President Ron Briggs did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story Thursday. At the time the policy was implemented Briggs said the union was never consulted.
“I’m stunned that they would put in a policy without at least notifying me as the representative of over 480 people that it’s going to effect. I’m shocked, dismayed. It’s unprecedented that they would do this,” Briggs told the Daily Gazette Oct. 12.