CSEA vs. Thruway Legal Battle Escalates

Apr 15, 2013

One of the state's largest unions has accused the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation of threatening layoffs to get union officials to agree to contract concessions.

Complaints have been filed with the New York State's Public Employment Relations Board. CSEA spokesman Stephen Madarasz confirms the union has charged the Cuomo administration with Taylor Law violations. The Taylor Law grants public employees the right to organize and elect their union representatives.

A CSEA official says the contract expired June 30 2012. The union says Thruway management is trying to intimidate and pressure rank and file union members. CSEA officials say that back in December, Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison sent an email to CSEA-represented workers threatening that layoffs would occur unless the union agreed to management's contract demands for severe concessions by April 3rd.  They add layoffs began immediately after the deadline expired.
Madarasz says there is a lot of concern about the way the Thruway Authority is being run. He also pointed to comments Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton made to the media calling canal workers' salaries "bloated" as proof of the Cuomo administration's contempt for its workers.
After several calls to the governor's office, Dan Weiller,  Director of Media Relations and Communications for the New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation, responded  -  but refused to go on mic, opting instead to send a single sentence email. Quote: "We have negotiated in good faith throughout this process, and will continue to do so."

Early this year,  Teamsters Local 72, which represents state Thruway Authority workers, filed an unfair labor complaint alleging its members were improperly threatened with layoffs if they failed to make concessions during contract talks. The union has not returned calls for comment.