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CSEA to Astorino: Enough with the Lies!

County union officials accuse County Executive Robert Astorino of not being forthcoming during contract negotiations.

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WHITE PLAINS – Leaders of CSEA, the largest union representing Westchester County employees, Tuesday called on County Executive Rob Astorino to stop lying to residents and the media about CSEA’s role in the 2012 county budget process.

Union officials gathered on the steps of the Michaelian Office Building for a news conference Tuesday morning where they set the record straight about statements Astorino has made about CSEA and the budget process in recent weeks, namely Astorino’s professions that CSEA rejected a proposal that would save county jobs. Astorino has called for 210 CSEA layoffs in his proposed 2012 budget.

 “It takes a tremendous amount of arrogance for Astorino to go on a national television program and lie about something that impacts so many lives,” said CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo.

Riccaldo was referring to Astorino’s recent appearance on the Fox Business Channel program “Power and Money,” where Astorino said CSEA rejected his “Jobs for Savings” proposal and instead chose to accept layoffs.  That statement is untrue, Riccaldo said.

“If Rob Astorino was really the taxpayer crusader he portrays himself to be, he would have brought this ‘Jobs for Savings’ proposal to contract negotiations,” Riccaldo. “As it stands, our negotiating committee has met 10 times with the county and we’ve yet to see this proposal. How can Astorino say we’ve rejected his plan when he’s never directed his labor negotiators to present it to us?”

It’s especially disingenuous for Astorino to continue his lie about “Jobs for Savings” because many residents are unfamiliar with public sector contract negotiations and the county budget process, noted CSEA Westchester County Local President John Staino.

“He’s pitting the public against the county workforce by lying about the budget process,” said Staino. “Most people aren’t familiar enough with the negotiations process to know that the only way CSEA could consider any proposal is if it were brought to the table. Astorino has gone to the media, to community groups, and even on a conference call with county residents, but he’s never bothered to submit the proposal in the only venue where it could actually be considered.”

Astorino’s constant union-bashing and barbs at the county workforce have created a toxic atmosphere for the budget process and damaged worker morale at a time when the county workforce is already stretched thin, said CSEA Westchester County Unit President Karen Pecora.       

“Think of the DSS worker who already is struggling to deal with a pile of cases, who now has to worry about losing her own job on top of meeting the needs of her clients,” said Pecora. “It’s not so easy for our members to go to work each day knowing that the county executive has poisoned the general public on the value of the work they do, but our members continue to do the best they can and serve the people of this county.”

The CSEA Westchester County Unit represents 3,300 full time Westchester County employees. CSEA members repair and maintain county roads, treat county wastewater, operate county labs, administer social services, oversee planning, run information technology services, and facilitate affordable recreational opportunities through the county parks system. CSEA members play an integral role in quality of life in Westchester County.

Bob Zahm December 07, 2011 at 10:19 PM
@Bjorn - this isn't about trying to bring someone down, but rather applying basic economics. Having employees pay a percentage of the premium for their healthcare along with a co-pay creates an incentive for the employee to manage their use of services. Without that incentive, the use (and cost) goes up faster than with the incentive. Simple economics. In an ideal world, employers (govt or not) would be out of this loop and employees would buy insurance up to the level they could afford / want - kind of like homeowners, renters, life, etc.
Bob Zahm December 07, 2011 at 10:21 PM
When you agree to the principal - pay for a percentage of the premium - then you can have a rational discussion about the level.
Bjorn Olsson December 07, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Bob, I don't see how paying for part of your premium would make you use health services less, I would imagine it would rather fuel an urge to really "make sure I get my money's worth." Co-pay per visit is a separate issue and not really part of this discussion. I do agree that it makes no sense that your health insurance should be tied your job, for several reasons. I reach a different conclusion, however, since I believe a single payer system like other western nations have, or for that matter like Medicare, would be a much better, more efficient solution. I bet that if you asked corporations abroad if they would prefer to take over health insurance from the government, the reply would be a unanimous: "never on your life!"
Blue December 08, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Maryellen you seem like the most reasonable union employee ever on this board. Thank you for the insight to your side.
Maryellen Howard December 08, 2011 at 02:10 PM
Thank you Blue, I appreciate that. We will see what happens..

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