Local unions fight Albany County furloughs

Local unions are saying Albany County Executive Michael Breslin has violated their contract, and its members are opposing his decision to enact furloughs in order to trim a budget deficit.

Kathy Garrison, Civil Service Employees Association president, said five separate grievances have been filed and strategies are being considered to deal with the furloughs.

She said the CSEA is working on the situation and there will be some type of action on Aug. 28, the first of the dates the furloughs are scheduled for.

"Our employees are ready and willing to go to work on the 28th," she said of the CSEA employees who were given a notice to not come in on that date. "I think we have a great case."

The social services, mental health, general services, highway and health departments all had filed grievances as of June 30.

Garrison said an arbitrator will hear the grievances, although a date has not yet been determined.

Garrison also said separate improper practice charges have been filed with the Public Employees Relations Board on Thursday, July 16, and a conference has been scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 16, to hear arguments.

"They're violating their contract. They're locking our employees out," Garrison said. "Their salary and their workweek is defined in their contract."

Darcy Wells, a spokeswoman for the Public Employees Federation, which represents 100 probation officers in the county said that group has also filed a grievance also said the PEF is working toward an improper practice charge.

She said the furlough is a safety concern.

"We think it's improper, and we're going to fight it," she said. "Any time you take probation officers off the street, even for one day, it's a safety concern."

Wells said the county has agreed to see an arbitrator, and is willing to "fast track a hearing."

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