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CSEA 815 Wins Arbitration Ruling

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – Erie County can not hire part-time workers in place of full-time workers. An arbitrator from the state's Public Employees Relations Board ruled in favor of the Civilian Service Employees Association Local 815 - the county's largest union.

The union filed an improper practice charge last year after County Executive Chris Collins hired about 150 regular part time workers. Collins said the move saves the county about a million dollars a year by cutting the new hires' vacation time in half. Joan Bender is President of CSEA Local 815. She said the ruling is the arbitrator's answer to the county executive's "edict" that he would only hire regular part time workers.

The arbitrator ruled that the county violated the state's Taylor Law when it failed to negotiate with the union before hiring part time workers rather than full-time employees. Collins said the county will appeal the decision. He said the union's contract allows for regular part time positions.

According to Collins, the part-timers receive the same health and retirement benefits, but get half the vacation time. Collins says that makes the union uncomfortable because it highlights how outrageous amount of paid time off that full-time employees receive, nineteen and a half weeks a year.

Both sides agree that the decision has not helped negotiations to hammer out a new contract.

Bender said negotiations are virtually nonexistent and that the County Executive needs to be more realistic. Collins said they have settled with the nurses' union and are close to deals with the remaining unions. He said CSEA is the lone hold-out in working to reach an agreement.

The appeal process could go back and forth for years. In the meantime, Collins said he will continue to hire regular part time workers.

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