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December 19, 2013

Council won't salvage city jobs

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Two eliminated city positions won’t be returned to the 2014 budget, the Common Council decided Wednesday.

A resolution, authored by 4th Ward Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, would have restored funding for an employee in the City Clerk’s office and a laborer in the highway department. The measure was pulled from Wednesday’s agenda after it failed to gain support from a second Council member. 

Both Schrader and Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the city is committed to avoiding laying off members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union to which the laborer belongs. That commitment came as a result of that union’s 2011 vote to allow the city to privatize garbage pickup, Schrader said.

“We made a promise and we signed a contract to the union that we wouldn’t lay anybody off. So now we’re lying to the union,” he said.

Tucker warned of trouble in future negotiations with the AFSCME local.

“It’s definitely a trust factor,” he told the Council. “You’re really going back on your word. … I can tell you, there will be consequences down the road.”

Tucker said he forgot about the clause while the 2014 budget process was worked through. Schrader said he was out of office when that deal was made, or he would have raised the question.

City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said money to pay both the laborer and the clerk’s office employee could have come from a budget line showing costs related to the retirement of Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite.

Passuite isn’t retiring this year, Pasceri told the Council, so $91,000 of that budget line could have been used to retain the two targeted positions.

Council President Anne McCaffrey, 2nd Ward alderman, opposed Schrader’s resolution, saying nothing has changed since the budget was adopted last month. And, she said, the commitment that the city made was only when the layoffs were related to privatizing garbage pickup.

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