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Editorial wrong to criticize Scotia binding arbitration award

Editorial wrong to criticize Scotia binding arbitration award

*Editorial wrong to criticize Scotia binding arbitration award *Health act must continue to cover co

Editorial wrong to criticize Scotia binding arbitration award

Re the Nov. 28 editorial, “The trouble with binding arbitration”: I find the opinion to be both misinformed and subjective. The five-year duration of the award by the PERB [Public Employment Relations Board] arbitration panel was mutually agreed upon by both the Scotia PBA [Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association] and the village of Scotia. An arbitration panel only has the authority to issue a two-year ruling; in order to extend the duration, both parties consented to the panel issuing a five-year award.

In such case where the panel’s authority has been extended, any raise must be mutually agreed upon after the initial two years. If either party did not consent to the raises proposed, the five-year award would not have been approved. The raises that we received were actually either less than or equal to every other employee in the village of Scotia, including a union without binding arbitration and village staff that is appointed, not represented by unions, and not under the authority of binding arbitration or the Triborough Amendment.

As for comparable jurisdictions, the reason that we used other police departments in Schenectady County to compare to is because that is our marketplace and the cost of living is consistent among the municipalities in the county. Every county in New York has a different cost of living. The Scotia PBA easily could have submitted other villages’ with similar populations and crime statistics from downstate New York which would have had higher wages as comparables, just as the Scotia submitted its comparables as villages in rural Washington County and Herkimer County with lower wages. But we didn’t, because Schenectady County is our marketplace and that is where we work, live and raise our families.

Each police department in Schenectady County competes with one another for employees and the wages must be similar in order to attract qualified candidates.

Furthermore, the Schenectady County Civil Service test for police officers in the county requires 30 college credits as a prerequisite to take the exam. The comparables presented by the village of Scotia do not have that prerequisite on their exam and would not even be eligible for lateral transfer to our police department, even if the officer individually possessed the required amount of college credits.

In addition, your editorial states that the arbitrator decided Scotia’s budget isn’t that strained, but the ruling would have been the same even if (the village of Scotia) was strained. This assumption is prejudicial and does not examine the history of the arbitrator on the panel.

The same presiding arbitrator, Jay Siegel, issued awards this year to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department for a 1 percent and 1.5 percent raise, city of Buffalo PBA for a 1 percent and 2 percent raise, and town of Ulster PBA for a 1 percent and 2 percent raise. This shows that the presiding arbitrator of our decision weighs each municipality differently based upon the circumstances and issues presented to him.

Contrary to your opinion, there was no winner or loser in the interest arbitration decision issued in Scotia. Ultimately, it was a fair contract for both the PBA and the village of Scotia.

Finally, I would like to point out, that an amendment was made to the interest arbitration process this year. Bill A8086 was signed by Gov. Cuomo on June 24 and designates a new binding arbitration process for fiscally eligible municipalities.

Adam Halbfinger

Scotia

The writer is the current president of the Scotia Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Health act must continue to cover contraception

The passage of the Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction of providing health insurance for all Americans. Initial technical problems do not negate the intrinsic value of this act.

However, the Supreme Court is going to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement [Nov. 27 Gazette]. More than 40 for-profit companies have sued for the right to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees. Hobby Lobby is at the forefront of this effort.

Under the ACA, various preventive health services are covered, including immunizations, annual physicals and certain screenings. Contraception must be included. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this challenge presents a danger to women. Should the Court rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, we could be entering a slippery slope where perhaps immunizations and other procedures would be challenged.

No corporation should be legally entitled to stand between a woman and her physician.

Eleanor Aronstein

Niskayuna

Filibuster rule change is Senate’s prerogative

In his Nov. 30 column, “Democrats trashing the rule of law,” Charles Krauthammer decries the recent 52-48 vote in the Senate to eliminate filibusters by individual senators who seek to block confirmation of presidential appointees.

Krauthammer writes: “If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules.”

As they daily wave the Constitution in our faces, conservatives like Krauthammer ought to try reading it. Article I, Section 5, paragraph 2 of the Constitution states: “Each House [of the Congress] may determine the Rules of its Proceedings . . .”

Tom Williams

Malta

In Internet age, paper receipts still way to go

Lately while shopping, I’m asked if I want a paper receipt or email receipt. I always take a paper receipt. But knowing how difficult it is to keep track of them during the holiday season, I choose an email receipt at Kmart. That was a big mistake!

When I got home and showed my husband my purchases, he informed that I bought him clippers — not the razor he needed. I went back to Kmart with the clippers. When I was asked for the receipt, I explained it was emailed. They took my member card and scanned it. Then they explained that they could not see the purchase and could not offer a refund or an exchange. I asked for a manager.

I waited for a half-hour. While waiting I answered several questions about my purchase, the total, what debit card I used and why I did not have a receipt.

The employees were able to give me a refund in the end. But in the future, I will always take a paper receipt!

Theresa Doty

Schenectady

Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?

Reading the front page of the Nov. 29 Gazette, I noticed mention of one shopper from Glenmont, how he wanted to beat the crowd, etc. According to the story, “In return for making sure his three children, ages 9 months, 5 and 6, had a good Christmas, he said he skipped dinner altogether.”

Apparently this shopper — father of three children — believes the material things are more important than his presence as part of the family, as the head of his family, during Thanksgiving dinner. He can’t shop the other 363 days of the year? Shame on him!

Retail spokespeople would have you believe that consumers initiated the demands to open stores on Thanksgiving Day. Actually, that can’t be further from the truth. Rather, retail dangles the candy in front of the child. One big-box store advertised a 32-inch TV (unnamed brand) for $98 on Thanksgiving Day. Can consumers get that price on any other day? No.

It is retail that has initiated sales on Thanksgiving Day, thus luring people into the stores, and retail will not allow shoppers to get those prices on any other day. Let’s not forget the madness, the mayhem, the fights that occur as well.

You can bet that the decision-makers, the corporate executives, in retail are spending Thanksgiving Day with their families at the traditional dinner.

In the coming years, [I predict] supermarkets will no longer close in the afternoon, all the malls will be open like any other day, probably car dealerships will all be open; Thanksgiving Day will be just another day. Would it surprise anyone if retailers started opening on Christmas Day as well?

What has become of Thanksgiving Day? I’m sure the great President Lincoln is rolling in his grave today, an excerpt from his 1863 proclamation reads: “I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving.”

Nowhere in this excerpt, nor anywhere in the complete proclamation, is there mention of turning the day into a wild frenzy of shopping madness.

Maryann Ruege

Rotterdam

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