CSEA members reject fact finder’s report

MAYVILLE – CSEA members voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to reject a fact finder’s recommendation to settle contract talks with Chautauqua County.

“We are dealing with a county executive (Greg Edwards) who has little respect for public employees and the essential services we provide for county residents every single day,” said CSEA Chautauqua County Unit President Steve Skidmore. “This rejection by the members has nothing to do with economics. We are fighting for their job security.”

By a vote of 301-9, union members rejected the fact finder’s report. The heavily concessionary package offered no job protection language.

“Our members are sick of Mr. Edwards’ anti-worker mentality,” Skidmore said. “County workers aren’t going to accept something just so Mr. Edwards can then turn around and kick them again through widespread layoffs. The community needs the services we provide.”

CSEA members have been working without a contract for almost two years. Throughout contract talks CSEA made multiple proposals that would have saved the county significant sums of money, yet Edwards repeatedly refused those savings proposals.

“It has become crystal clear that Mr. Edwards is not truly interested in the county’s finances; he is interested in dismantling his county work force,” Skidmore said. “Our health insurance proposal alone would have saved close to $2 million. We also offered to forgo raises for two years and freeze step increases for two years.”

“We want county residents to know that this union found ways to reduce costs and offer savings, but Mr. Edwards turned away every chance to save taxpayer dollars,” Skidmore said. “Had he accepted our proposals, he could have avoided his proposed tax increase in the 2014 budget.”

CSEA declared impasse in contract talks with the county in February 2012. Negotiations were facilitated by a neutral third-party mediator until this past May. The issue then went to fact-finding, and the factfinder issued the report in late August. The report offered recommendation on wages, health insurance coverage, health insurance premiums and other negotiated items.