SCHENECTADY -- City Council President Ed Kosiur has been cited for violating the city’s workplace violence policy, according to a city union president.
Kosiur interacted aggressively with a female city employee, shouting at her in front of her colleagues and immediate supervisor, before City Council meetings on March 19, according to Judy Versocki, president of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 886.
Kosiur was upset that funding was taken out of an application for a federal Community Development Block Grant, according to Versocki, who added that the employee, whom she represents, did not want her name revealed out of fear of retribution.
The woman filed a complaint against Kosiur, and the complaint was reviewed by an attorney outside the city who found Kosiur did violate the city's policy. Versocki said she considers Kosiur's behavior “harassment.”
It wasn’t clear what discipline was taken against Kosiur, other than “appropriate action was taken,” according to Versocki.
“I’m not happy about that only because, when a member of my union is disciplined, all of management knows what that discipline is,” Versocki said. “When a person files a workplace violence claim, I think that it would be appropriate for that person to know what the outcome was.”
City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico refused to comment on the incident, as he said it was city policy to keep those procedures confidential.
Kosiur also would not comment Wednesday on the incident.
City Council members Leesa Perazzo and Marion Porterfield said they recently met and spoke with the female employee about the incident.
Perazzo said she wasn’t sure what action could be taken against a council member, since they are elected officials and not city employees.
“We can’t be fired,” Perazzo said. “We don’t have personnel files that can lead to our termination, so who holds us accountable? As public figures, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
Porterfield called it “troubling” that a person who was elected to represent the city would behave as Kosiur did.
“It gives me pause, that’s all I can say,” Porterfield said.
The incident occurred just a week after Versocki and Adam Armour, president of AFSCME Local 1037, spoke during a March 12 City Council meeting, alerting council members to a culture of bullying by department supervisors and asking city officials to take action.
They claimed supervisors would become “vindictive” and call employees names in front of their co-workers, to the point where they felt threatened.
Perazzo also spoke up during the meeting, saying she proposed inclusion of anti-bullying provisions in the city’s workplace violence policy as a discussion item on the council’s agenda, but the discussion request was denied several times.
Kosiur said during the meeting that it was never denied; it was pulled from the agenda. He said that was because there was workplace violence training that was coming up, and he encouraged council members to attend so they could become more educated.
He then assured council members and the public that the policy included harassment of both a physical and verbal nature.
Perazzo pointed out that Kosiur seemingly believed during that meeting that workplace violence training for employees once a year was adequate. And yet a week later, he “verbally accosted an employee.”
“Clearly, Kosiur didn’t know what [the workplace violence policy] meant,” Perazzo said. “It’s just very disheartening.”
Versocki said she will still push for anti-bullying provisions to be part of the city’s workplace violence policy. She called Kosiur’s actions “very disappointing.”
“I think any form of harassment or workplace violence is a disservice not only to employees but also a disservice to the citizens of Schenectady who pay taxes beause their services are not being performed sufficiently -- because these incidents happening do affect the employees and the operations of the city," she said.