November 16, 2011 —
Two days after the election on November 8, Sandy Shaddock was in a good mood; she said she was “ecstatic” at the results of the election. She said labor groups in general and Teamsters Local 445, which represents the largest block of county workers, in particular, backed the winning candidates in all but one of the legislative races.
Shaddock, who is the business agent for the local, said, “We backed Cora Edwards, we backed Gene Benson and Kathy LaBuda. Labor offered some support to Kitty Vetter; we advised our Teamsters membership that they should be voting for Ira Steingart, he got in, and Scott Samuelson, he also got in.”
Edwards was asked if her endorsement from the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, which represents more than 100 labor organizations in the region including Local 445, was a factor in her victory in District 6, which serves Liberty and
Hurleyville. She said, “I hope so, I certainly hope so.” She added, however, that another important factor was that she and her team knocked on 445 doors before Halloween.
Jodi Goodman, the incumbent legislator in that district, had the support of labor in the past, but not this time out.
At budget time last year, the legislature surprised the rank and file county workers by passing a budget that did not include money for negotiated union wages and longevity payments, which led to bad feelings and an immediate legal challenge. The legislature ultimately backed down, but the relationship between labor and the legislature remained strained.
This year, perhaps not surprisingly after the results of the election were known, county manager David Fanslau presented a tentative budget that calls for no layoffs of county employees.
Adrian Huff, the secretary and treasurer of Local 445, said, “We just got word from the county manager that there are no layoffs planned in the tentative budget and no surprises. That’s what we wanted to hear.”
Shaddock said of the results of the election, “We think it’s going to mean a better working environment, a place where employees are finally going to be heard and recognized, not just as employees, but also as taxpayers, and we think it’s going to improve relations dramatically.”
Still, with the tentative budget dipping into the county reserves approximately $6 million out of a total of about $10 million, the county will likely not be able to rely so heavily in 2013 on the reserves to balance the budget and, absent more money or mandate relief coming from Albany, next year looks as difficult as the last three. With all of the collective bargaining units expiring at the end of the year, county chair Jonathan Rouis said negotiating new contracts “will be a very active part of the end of 2012.”