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Labor union claims funds 'misspent'

SCHUYLER COUNTY—Civil Service EmployeesColleen Wheaton Association (CSEA), the labor union representing about 150 Schuyler County workers, said that the county administration has mismanaged county finances, and that the layoffs proposed in the 2010 budget will have a harmful effect on county services.
CSEA Central Region President Colleen Wheaton said in an Oct. 30 press release that it’s wrong for the county administration to be blaming proposed layoffs on the union workers for failing to make contract concessions.
“Our members didn’t cause the financial shortfall the county faces, and they shouldn’t be the ones who have to make up for it,” she said.
Wheaton added that the union has already agreed to cost-saving measures that, along with better financial management from the county, would have helped avoid the current shortfall. “We’ve already agreed to a change in our insurance carrier, and put into place an alternative drug importation option that should produce significant savings for Schuyler County taxpayers,” she said. “Meanwhile the county administration has not done a good enough job managing the finances, and has spent down most of the reserves that should have been available to get us through these tough economic times. The workers deserve better leadership and so do the taxpayers.”
County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said “increased revenues have been outpaced by astronomical growth in personnel costs such as wages, healthcare and pension.”
CSEA said that union representatives also requested the county offer an early retirement incentive to allow workers with more seniority to leave county service and save more money, but that it was rejected by O’Hearn. “The Schuyler County administration needs to stop blaming the workers and look at coming up with real solutions that don’t involve cutting back on services needed by taxpayers. We’re willing to work with them to find savings outside of reopening the contract, but so far they’ve been unwilling to work with us,” Wheaton said.
O’Hearn said, “In addition to being blatantly false, I have doubts as to whether these allegations are representative of the majority of our local workforce, based on recent discussions I have had with our local leadership.  In any event, this is a portrayal of labor relations at their worst and I am disappointed that the regional representatives have chosen to take the low road on this issue.”

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