Opponents say changes unnecessary, CSEA files grievances
Residents came out in force at the Wednesday, Jan. 12, Rotterdam Town Board meeting to protest the move of a senior center staffer, who, along with three other town employees, was appointed to a new position by Supervisor Frank Del Gallo.
A number of senior citizens spoke out against Del Gallo’s decision to move Molly Collins to fill a vacant position as a typist in town court. Collins is slated to retire in two years. The training for the typist position is estimated to take 18 months.
Councilwoman Nicola DiLeva asked Del Gallo why he moved the four town employees to different positions, some of which weren’t budgeted.
All I’m doing is I’m moving them for training, said Del Gallo in response. `I am not moving anyone permanent to anything.`
Del Gallo said the four individuals were chosen because they all have the same classification, but DiLeva noted that one employee is classified as an account specialist, which entails completely different responsibilities from the typist position she was moved to.
During the board’s agenda meeting on Monday, Jan. 10, Conrad Johnson, president of the Rotterdam Civil Service Employees Association, served grievances to board members, indicating the shift would abruptly change the town employees’ working hours. Also, the job vacancies should be posted to allow people to apply for desired positions.
Del Gallo said the move was within his authority.
`You can’t just take one of these girls and put them there because the position is not there yet,` said DiLeva. `Molly is the most loved person at the senior center. I am asking this because I had at least 50 calls on Molly, so I would like you to explain to me. Why are we doing this?`
Board member Robert Godlewski gave the supervisor no chance to explain.
`I am saying to the supervisor and to the board, you have been officially served with grievances by the union; it would be inappropriate for this board to discuss this item in the open forum,` said Godlewski.
His announcement was met with a roar of displeasure from residents in attendance.
Johnson later said board members are allowed to talk about the grievances publicly in general terms, but they aren’t supposed to personally name any employee involved.
Jack Shiely, president of the Rotterdam Senior Citizens Association, spoke out against Collins’ move to justice court.
`If something is not broke, don’t fix it,` said Shiely. `We have a wonderful senior center there. Molly is not just an employee; Molly is a daughter to many of the people that come to that senior center.`
He said Molly knows every one the seniors that come to the center, and he also gave the board a petition with over 250 signatures pleading to keep Collins in the senior center.
Collins herself spoke up after Shiely’s comments.
`I’ve heard many things since I was told that I was being moved last Wednesday ` budget cuts, cross training, managerial rights ` but there are two words that I haven’t heard: cooperation and respect,` said Collins. `I don’t care if you are a part of an athletic team, a church group, a privately held company or town government, without cooperation between management and employees very little gets accomplished.`
Collins asked the board to respect the job she has done at the senior center and give her a reason for the personnel changes.
`Up until this moment, right now, nobody told me it was cross training,` said Collins. `I was told it is a permanent move to the court.“