Thursday, July 31, 2008

Westchester Guardian/Westchester County Government.

Thurday, July 31, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

County Government Ought To
Practice What It Preaches


Last Monday, July 21, the County’s largest public employees’ union, the Civil Service Employees Association, representing some 4,000 Westchester County workers, held a press conference outside the County Office Building on Martine Avenue, White Plains. They were carrying petitions signed by more than 3,000 of their members seeking “a liberalization of the modified work week clause;” a four-day work
week with 10-hour workdays, wherever possible and practical.

CSEA 9200 Local President Jack McPhillips told reporters present, “We are imploring the County Executive to institute a four-day work week, where applicable, to coincide with his initiative to reduce the County’s carbon footprint.” Such a change, McPhillips pointed out, “would reduce gasoline consumption and cut back on air pollution.”

Accompanied by The Guardian, McPhillips, together with five other Union member/County employees from the Departments of Public Works, Rye Playland, and Social Services, then entered the County Office Building, bent on delivering petitions containing more than 3,000 signatures to the County Executive’s Office, as well as to the Chairman of the Board of Legislators, Bill Ryan.

Arriving first at the ninth floor, having called ahead, the Union delegation was avoided by County Executive Andy Spano, Deputy
County Executive Larry Schwartz, and Chief Advisor Susan Tolchin, and was compelled to leave the petition signatures with a receptionist in the corridor, at the front desk.

From there, the delegation proceeded to the eighth floor, where they were cordially greeted by Bill Ryan, Chairman of the County Legislature, recovering from his recent heart surgery. Ryan, sitting in a rocking chair and looking much thinner and healthier than before his
operation, told Union President McPhillips, “You have always tried to balance your members’ needs with the needs of County residents.”

McPhillips responded, “We are not trying to shut the County down for a day, but merely suggesting that County government practice what it is preaching with regard to the environment, and its carbon footprint wherever possible.”

Chairman Ryan responded, “You’re putting another good idea on the table.”

It should be noted that County employees have been working without a contract for two and a half years. And, currently, both sides are communicating through a mediator.

Prior to the arrival of the delegation, The Guardian spoke with Republican County Legislator from Cortlandt, Minority Leader George Oros. Oros indicated that he would be willing to consider the Union’s four-day, ten-hour proposal in those areas where it was feasible, “provided there was no loss of productivity.” Oros stressed the notion that County government, as the largest employer in the County, might serve as a model for private industry.

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