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Local unions fight Albany County furloughs

Mary Duryea, a spokeswoman from the Albany County executive's office, confirmed that the two sides have agreed to arbitration.

"We feel that we are on firm legal ground," she said. "We don't feel the need for [contract] negotiations at this time."

She said the county executive expected opposition from the unions and consulted its legal counsel before enacting the furloughs.

Duryea confirmed that no date has been set for a hearing regarding the grievances.

Albany County Legislator Shawn Morse, D-Cohoes, spoke against the furloughs, saying that the county has an obligation to the taxpayer during poor economic times.

Morse said other cost-saving initiatives, such as a prescription drug card and purchasing drugs through the Canadian drug company CanaRx, are being stalled while the furlough program is enacted.

"I believe the unions will prevail in their grievances against the furloughs, and this will cost the county additional money," Morse said in a written statement. "The better solution, as I suggested, is to build collaborations with the unions and work with them to find solutions."

The county's budget gap is close to $20.5 million. The proposed dates for the furloughs are Aug. 28, Sept. 25, Oct. 25, Nov. 25 " the day after Thanksgiving, and Thursday, Dec. 24 " the day before Christmas, and the plan is expected to save approximately $1.4 million.

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