Westchester CSEA union president accuses county of silencing members on budget

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In a statement released Thursday, Karen Pecora, the president of CSEA Unit 9200, said county workers have been told by their department heads not to speak at public hearings on the proposed 2013 Westchester County budget. The directive came from County Executive Rob Astorino’s office, she said.

“Some CSEA members on the proposed layoff list have been informed by department heads that they are forbidden from speaking with the media about the layoffs,” said the statement by CSEA, which represents about 3,200 Westchester County workers.

The statement quotes Pecora saying: “Workers who were scheduled to be laid off last year but had their positions restored by legislators suffered retaliation and retribution and were told this was a result of their public speeches last year. Now we’re seeing Astorino bullying our union members into silence to blunt criticism of his budget cuts. Not only is this indefensible behavior, it is an attempt to prevent the taxpaying residents of this county from hearing the true impact of these proposed cuts.”

The county’s $1.7 billion budget proposal includes 126 layoffs.

Pecora also responded to Astorino’s statements to the Journal News Editorial Board this week, when he accused the CSEA of making a calculated decision to avoid a contract settlement, despite the layoffs, to keep another year of free health care.

“Pecora reiterated that CSEA has expressed willingness in contract negotiations to agree to health care premium contributions, but said a deal has not been reached due to Astorino’s refusal to make a commitment to job security. Astorino’s statements about CSEA negotiations made during an editorial forum yesterday on LoHud.com were untrue.” the CSEA statement said.

We’ll bring you the administration’s response when we get it.

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13 Comments

  1. Wow ! Talk about restraint of Freedom of Speech and coercion of employees !

    Similar to the hateful tactic that coal company CEO tried with his workers and others during the ill fated Romney campaign. This is not the USSR during the Iron Curtain days of totalitarism.
    When last we looked we salute and hoist the Stars and Stripes on our flagpoles each morning on municipal buildings.

  2. Conflict of Interest on

    I agree that County Employees should not be commenting in a public forum regarding the budget. It is a clear conflict of interest.

  3. I really don’t believe that this directive is coming from CE Astorino. I believe it makes great news and sells papers. How foolish do the union leaders think we are?? If you have nothing to fear then what would keep you from your right of free speech.

  4. Impacted employee on

    This story is 100% correct. I am a County Employee. I spoke out at a recent hearing because I felt it was the right thing to do. Then, the next day, I was reprimanded.

    What is going on is not right. These are public hearings. This is a free country. Anybody is welcome to speak, including county employees who show up on their own time. There are no laws or policies that state otherwise. It is 100% fair for a county employee to tell the legislators how the elimination of their job will affect public services. That is exactly what I said, nothing more. It is in the public interest for the public to know how the services they pay for will be impacted by layoffs.

    It is appaling to me that a politician like Rob Astorino, would talk about people’s freedoms out of one side of his mouth, yet try to intimidate his own employees from excercising free speech at a public hearing. This is America. It is un-American to try run your local goverment like a totalitarian gulag. I am glad people are talking about this, because the truth about this man needs to come out.

  5. Any disgruntled, non-productive County employee who thinks he or she is irreplaceable is in for an eye opening. There are 200 people standing in line to replace you and each would be delighted to have your position.

  6. “Impacted Employee”, I’m not buying your nonsense or Pecora’s for that matter. If you stood up and spoke at a public meeting and you’re such an advocate of free speech why are you hiding behind a pseudonym on a blog. Start contributing to your healthcare like everyone else does and you could save your job.

  7. Virginia Perez is doing a Sarah Palin and resigning as a Legislator: (too much real work and stress after selling out her constituents) and copping a freebie job in the corrupt Astorino regime. So the stories go in White Plains and from sources in her home district Wed.

    She definitely is not a Democrat after that sellout together with Kaplowitz.
    Just another mercenary who Astorino exploited after her personal bankruptcy came out with her horrible financial choices and losing her home after mortgage default.

    Kaplowitz story to be told

  8. Imfrancis Why are you hiding behind a pseudonym? Did you not read the sentence where they said they were reprimanded? Do you work for the county? If not then how do you know this isn’t true? To Conflict of interest-can you explain what the conflict of interest is?

  9. WS, who cares how the budget got passed? As a resident, I’m thrilled there’s another budget with NO tax increase.

    As far as any cuts go, who cares? I don’t nor do any other residents since we won’t feel the effects at all. What we really need to do is dissolve our county government altogether. No county government in CT and they govern themselves just fine!

  10. taxpayer said it all.

    I DONT CARE if all the workers are fired. CUT MY TAXES.
    I DONT CARE who gets services…I don’t. CUT MY TAXES.
    I DONT CARE that other people are in need. CUT MY TAXES.

    We now hail Ebenezer Scrooge, and criticize Bob Cratchit for having days off.

    Conservatives are going to wreck America. When people retire (!) in 2030, there’ll be no pensions so you’ll be lucky to live on whatever is available. Only the uber-successful will survive.

    Tough darts on the rest of us,. CUT MY TAXES

  11. Larchmonter, do own a house & pay property taxes? From your comments, it doesn’t sound like you do and therefore have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Government doesn’t create jobs, its supports those who do. Get it straight.

    And you’re living in the 70s if you think anyone else besides government workers are getting pensions. Why shouldn’t government workers like cops, firemen & teachers have 401ks like the rest of us?