MAYVILLE - County legislators looking for an update on CSEA negotiations surrounding the Chautuaqua County Home have been denied information.
Wednesday's legislature meeting moved fairly quickly, with each resolution on the agenda being passed. However, when it came to the second privilege of the floor, legislators looked for clarification on a piece of correspondence received from the CSEA.
Earlier in the month, the county received proposals from the CSEA regarding the County Home. The letter, which was received by each legislator, was read during the meeting at the request of minority leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown.
Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, questioned Steve Abdella, county attorney, about the Taylor Law, which prompted a 20-minute discussion about whether legislators could have an update on negotiations.
"Under the Taylor Law and the county charter, the County Executive is specifically charged with the responsibility for negotiation of all employee contracts," Abdella told The Post-Journal. "The County Legislature has separate duties, including the task of resolving an impasse in negotiations and authority to approve or disapprove negotiated labor contracts."
According to Abdella, the New York Public Employees Relations Board frowns on legislative involvement prior to an impasse resolution procedure. Abdella said it is the job of the County Executive to negotiate agreements with the union, and, despite the legislators receiving a copy of the letter from the CSEA, they should not be involved.
"The county could be viewed as having had an improper practice and not negotiating in good faith, because it permitted the legislative body to involve itself in negotiations and completely muddy the waters as far as the negotiation process," Abdella said.
Despite Abdella's explanation, various legislators continued to question whether there were any updates as to the progress of the negotiations, rather than the negotiating itself. The meeting came to an abrupt end when Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk moved to adjourn.
Abdella said County Executive Greg Edwards is working through negotiations with CSEA, which is currently in a fact-finding stage. Additionally, Edwards is still working with potential purchaser William (Avi) Rothner on the proposal for the home's sale.
"We have exchanged several drafts of the agreement. The county received a counter-proposal and has sent back another proposal," Abdella said. "It's still very much being negotiated."