Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

April 18, 2013

City union to fight 'outsourcing'

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The union that represents City Hall office workers is filing a grievance against the City of Lockport for farming out ambulance billing work to the private sector.

CSEA is lodging an improper practice charge on behalf of member Barbara Parker, an administrative coordinator in the fire department’s ambulance billing office who’s being reassigned to the accounting department.

Earlier this month, the Common Council hired MultiMed Inc., a private company in Baldwinsville, to process city ambulance bills, beginning around May 1.

Parker is not losing her city employment as a result, Mayor Michael Tucker said. She’s being assigned a new title, along the lines of billing coordinator/junior accountant, and will keep her existing pay rate and grade.

CSEA objects to the outsourcing of work that’s been “exclusive bargaining unit work” for almost 30 years, Lockport City Unit President Vicki Haenle said in a Wednesday media statement announcing the grievance.

MultiMed’s fee, 10 percent of total annual ambulance billings, could be as much as $70,000 per year, and that’s money leaving Lockport, Haenle said.

“Ambulance billing in Lockport is not broken, and it does not need to be fixed. We already have a highly qualified, dedicated city employee, and city resident, working hard every day on taxpayers’ behalf. A private company 140 miles away will not care about Lockport taxpayers,” she said.

Tucker said the MultiMed deal will free up Parker to work in accounting, where her billing expertise is sorely needed. Since late 2010, at least 25 city employees have retired and most are not being replaced. Instead, where it’s possible, support staff have been cross-trained and/or moved to different departments to fill in gaps.

“People are doing a lot more work than they did in the past. Some people are probably doing too much,” Tucker said. Assignment changes “are about making us more efficient.”

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