According to a letter received by the mayor’s office on Monday, The Amsterdam Professional Firefighters Union has filed a improper practice charge against the City of Amsterdam with the New York State Employment Relations Board over comments made by Alderman Ron Barone regarding the subject of layoffs at a Common Council committee meeting on October 7th of this year. The comments were made after Fire Chief Michael Whitty reported to the council that his department had used almost all their yearly budget for overtime. At the meeting, Whitty requested the council restore their budget to the original department request of $100,000 for overtime which had been cut by the council by approximately 40%.
According to the letter, both the firefighter’s union and the city are in the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. The charge alleges that at the meeting, Barone “threatened in a public discussion with the Fire Chief that there will be layoffs in the fire department due to overtime costs in the department. No Council member took issue with Councilman Barone’s threat. Thus, upon information and belief, he spoke with the authority and consent of the Council.”
The letter states that the remarks were verified by the union’s president after a conversation with Chief Whitty on October 8th. The letter also cites an article published by the Mohawk Valley Compass on October 9, 2014 which reported the remarks made by Barone.
The letter claims that the remarks constitute a failure of the city to “bargain in good faith” which violates Article 14, Section 209-a.1(d) of the Civil Service Law. The letter requests the employee relations board “issue and Order reprimanding the City (officials, employees, agents and/or servants) from making such future threats, together with such other and further relief that the Board deems appropriate.”