Erie County's 2,000 blue-collar workers will get their 4.75 percent increase Jan. 1 after the County Legislature Thursday unanimously defeated County Executive Gorski's proposal to delay the raise until April.
Legislators were uncharacteristically quiet, offering no comments before rejecting the plan that Gorski claims would have saved the county $32,000 in the face of state aid cuts.
But Ted Mitchell, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1095, which negotiated the raise, did not mince words, repeatedly noting his disbelief that Gorski would publicize his plan without giving him notice.
"He didn't bother to show the common courtesy of telling me, the president of the local," Mitchell said. "The very least he could have done is let me know."
The union leader said the rank-and-file has been counting on the pay boost since Oct. 15, when the county and union signed the three-year pact.
He said it might not seem like a lot of money to Gorski, but the modest pay increase means a lot to the blue-collar workers.
"He's not in their financial position," Mitchell said. "They are on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Every nickel and dime means a lot."
Majority Leader Leonard R. Lenihan, D-Town of Tonawanda, called Gorski's plan a misjudgment that stemmed from good intentions. He said he understands the administration is attempting to find ways to soften the blow of $7 million in state aid reductions.
But Lenihan said lawmakers could not support tampering with a signed labor contract.
"It was a done deal, and we could see no reason to delay (the pay hike)," he said. "If they hadn't come to terms, we might have asked them to consider a delay, but not at this time."
Gorski said he is disappointed but will accept the Legislature's vote.
"They had the right to do what they see fit," he said. "I made a suggestion, and they did not support it."
Gorski said he has no alternative proposals at this time for reducing county expenses or boosting revenues ike denied
.75% raise on Jan. 1
but said he will unveil what he termed "a plan of action" soon after the start of the new year.
As lawmakers cleared up unfinished business to close out their legislative year, they took steps to make sure the administration follows through on changes they made to Gorski's 1991 budget.
They approved a number of resolutions aimed at ensuring quick payments to the county's small cultural and public benefit agencies. They also called on the administration to make all approved position upgradings effective Jan. 1.
Legislators have complained in the past that the administration has dragged its heels in implementing those changes and issuing aid checks.