SCHENECTADY -- City Council President Ed Kosiur pushed back Thursday against accusations that he berated a city employee -- thus violating the city’s workplace violence policy -- in a City Hall encounter involving proposed cuts to Community Development Block Grant programs.
Kosier sought to downplay the matter by saying that his “speaking voice may be louder than that of many other people.” Kosier also said he apologized twice for “raising his voice.”
Kosier’s response came one day after it was reported that a female employee filed the workplace violence complaint against Kosiur. Specifically, the woman said that on March 19, just before City Council committee meetings, Kosiur behaved aggressively toward her, according to Judy Versocki, president of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 386. The female employee who filed the complaint is a member of the union.
In an email statement Thursday, Kosiur said he “strongly disagreed with any finding” that he violated the policy.
Versocki said Kosiur began screaming at the employee in front of her colleagues, including her immediate supervisor.
Versocki said the employee did not want her identity revealed due to fear of retribution.
She submitted her resignation on Thursday, effective in two weeks, according to several sources inside City Hall.
The incident was investigated by an attorney outside of the city who found Kosiur did violate the city’s policy. Versocki said the employee got a letter that informed her of the decision and that said “appropriate action was taken.” It was unclear what discipline was taken against Kosiur.
Kosiur, in an interview later on Thursday, said he actually didn't receive any discipline. He also said he never saw a copy of the original complaint or the decision.
Kosiur confirmed in his statement Thursday that he was upset over cuts to the federal Community Development Block Grant program. Specifically, he was upset over what he said was a $25,000 cut to the Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady and a 20-percent funding cut to the Schenectady Senior Citizen Center.
Kosiur said he went to the city’s Development Office, where he said he was “six to eight feet away” from two city employees. He did not specify who they were. He claimed he told them he wasn’t putting the discussion about funding on the agenda that evening because the items were brought to him too late.
“Had the normal procedure had been followed, I would have been provided a proposed Annual Action Plan well in advance of the item being placed on the agenda,” Kosiur said in his email, adding he also had not been briefed on any of the funding allocations.
In explaining his version of the incident, Kosiur said his “speaking voice may be louder than that of many other people,” and that he apologized twice to the employees for “raising his voice."
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said in her experience as a human resources manager at Proctors, sometimes the people involved in these types of incidents don't always have the same recollection of how things occurred. That's why a third party gets brought in to review the incident, she said.
"I think [the third party's] determination should be respected," Perazzo said.
Versocki on Thursday she was, again, disappointed in what Kosiur had to say.
"Because he does not agree with it does not mean it didn't happen," Versocki said. "This was a third party that did the investigation. I think the recommendations stand for themselves."
The incident occurred just a week after Versocki and Adam Armour, president of AFSCME Local 1037, spoke during a March 12 City Council meeting telling council members a culture of bullying by department supervisors exists. They asked city officials to take action.
They claimed supervisors would become “vindictive” and call employees names in front of their co-workers. Some employees felt threatened, they said.
Kosiur, in the Thursday email, said CDBG money was restored for the Boys & Girls Club project. He added that funding for the Senior Citizen Center will be included as a separate line item in the 2019 budget.
“I am sorry that I raised my voice, but I am proud that I restored funding for the programs that are so vital to the children, families and seniors in our community and will continue to be a strong voice for them,” Kosiur wrote.
Kosiur stressed in an interview later on Thursday that he still has a good working relationship with the employee who filed the complaint against him. He said she was "a good employee."
"She was energetic and willing to learn, and willing to wortk with you," Kosiur said.
Kosiur said he had heard the female employee had submitted her resignation, adding that he hoped it wasn't over the incident between them.
"Because she was a very good and valuable employee," Kosiur said.