News From the Town of Colonie
Paula A. Mahan
PERB Backs Colonie in Labor Dispute
Newtonville, N.Y. – New York State's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) on April 11 dismissed “in its entirety” a charge brought against the Town of Colonie by the United Public Service Employees Union (UPSEU).
UPSEU had filed an improper practice charge alleging that Colonie violated the Public Employees Fair Employment Act in seeking Town Designated Engineers (TDE) to advise the Town on engineering and planning matters.
In dismissing the charge, Administrative Law Judge Melanie Wlasuk said allegations of privatization of work previously performed by unit members were groundless.
It is “abundantly clear” from the testimony of UPSEU's witnesses that “they still continue to perform their function of site plan review within their various departments,” wrote Judge Wlasuk.
“I am very pleased that the PERB decision affirms what we have known all along – that the Town acted lawfully in its decision to seek the services of Town Designated Engineers,” said Colonie Town Supervisor Paula A. Mahan.
In dismissing the charges, Judge Wlasuk also found that the work performed by the Town Designated Engineers was substantially different from the work performed by unit employees and that hiring the Town Designated Engineers enabled the Town to provide an enhanced level of service to the public.
Judge Wlasuk also found that UPSEU had “no enforceable right” to act on behalf of the employees as the exclusive negotiating agent because the date of its filing clearly pre-dated UPSEU's certification by PERB.
In seeking Town Designated Engineers, the Town issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in the summer of 2008. UPSEU filed its action on September 16, 2008, but was not certified by PERB as the exclusive negotiating unit until November 16, 2008.
“Therefore, as the changes alleged in the charge were made before UPSEU was certified, the Town could not have violated its duty to negotiate with UPSEU by making changes in any of its employees' terms and conditions of employment because it did not have such a duty,” wrote Judge Wlasuk.
In addition the Judge noted that the charge appeared to have been prematurely filed because the execution of the TDE contracts and alleged performance of unit work both occurred subsequent to the September 16 filing date.
“ This Administration is very mindful of union rights and prides itself on doing all that's legally possible to protect those rights, while providing the best service to the public at a reasonable cost. PERB's decision in this case serves to confirm the Town's practice. The Town is very satisfied with the outcome of this case,” said Town Attorney Michael Magguilli.