Unionized workers picket outside Niagara County Legislature

CSEA picket outside Niagara County Courthouse

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB)- The rain didn’t stop a large crowd of unionized Niagara County employees from pounding the pavement outside the county courthouse.

Prior to the Niagara County Legislature meeting Tuesday, dozens of civil service workers picketed recent changes to their schedules, and their lack of a new contract in nearly five years.

“It’s very frustrating. We go to the bargaining table in good faith, and we’re not treated with respect for the jobs we do for the county and the citizens of Niagara,” said Tim Callaghan, president of the Niagara County Deputy Sheriff’s PBA.

Several unions were part of the protest, all in collaboration with the local Civil Service Employee’s Association union, or CSEA.

“You’re seeing about five or six unions out here in support. And yes, we are trying to get the county legislature to move the county to move back to the table to get back to talking and negotiate a fair and equitable contract for everybody. Again, five years is a long time and these people deserve a raise,” said Dominic Luna, Labor Relations Specialist with the CSEA.

The average unionized county worker is making around $32,000 per year according to Luna. And no new contract means no raise, in more than four years.

Workers told News 4 the stand still is making it hard to get by.

“There’s a perception out there that public employees make a great deal of money. Well they don’t,” Luna said.

Picketers said they’re outraged that while their salaries are frozen, some county officials were given 10 percent raises.

Except for a handful of people, workers told News 4 they want to clean house at the county level.

“They’re taking care of their special interests, so we need to get new faces on the legislature,” said union worker Suzanne Needler.

The county recently did away with the alternative or flexible work schedule (AWS) for unionized civil service workers.

Now, all employees must work 8 a.m.-4 p.m., which ended a longstanding policy that gave more leeway with schedules.

The local CSEA’s president Sue Young said she wasn’t made aware of the change.

During Tuesday’s legislative meeting, it was decided talks about AWS will be put on hold until after the holidays, but still no word on contracts.

News 4 reached out to the Niagara County Legislature for a comment and have not heard back yet.

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