OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Police Supervisory Unit, the Ogdensburg Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, and the United Public Service Employees Union released a statement Friday regarding reaction to contracts signed by the police unions and City Council.
City Council ratified the contracts with the police unions on Tuesday, one day after the Mayor-Elect Jeffery M. Skelly and Councilors-Elect John A. Rishe, William B. Dillabough and Steven M. Fisher issued a statement demanding the outgoing council to halt all negotiations with unions and with St. Lawrence County with which the council is negotiating a sales tax agreement.
After the council voted to ratify the agreements Tuesday, Councilmen David G. Price told reporters, “You may be aware there are councilors-elect who are asking us not to complete our term of service. They are asking us to stop being councilors so they can take over anything and everything.”
“We have an obligation to run the city,” Mayor Wayne A. Ashley added.
Comments about the contracts posted on social media apparently prompted the response from the unions.
Councilor-Elect Fisher wrote on a Facebook thread, “when this city is in such dire straits, it is not logical to enter into a labor agreement for seven years. I’m not sure we can afford to pay this for the next seven years. The city keeps spending but where’s the money going to come from?”
The response came in the form of an emailed letter signed by Jose L. Manjarrez of the United Public Service Employees Union.
“I would like to address the demand that was made upon the sitting Council to delay or stall negotiations for no reason other than to avoid its responsibility under the contracts,” Mr. Manjarrez wrote. “First, it’s important to mention that an undue delay that is motivated by arbitrary reasons, or no reason at all, would amount to bad faith bargaining and unlawful conduct. That kind of behavior would have inevitably and unnecessarily exposed the city to an improper practice charge and accompanying legal fees presumably. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the incoming administration is not a party to the current collective bargaining relationship, and it would therefore have no standing or authority to make bargaining demands.”
“We ask the public to think objectively and to avoid falling for political trickery,” Mr. Manjarrez wrote. “It is a well-established strategy, one that we reject, to suppress wages and to then pin workers against themselves while willfully ignoring the true causes of financial hardship.”
City Council will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to consider ratification of a contract with the International Association of Fire Fighters that represents the City’s fire department.