Share this article

print logo

LACKAWANNA CITY HALL RETURNS TO SHORT WEDNESDAYS

Lackawanna City Hall goes on its summer schedule beginning Sunday, meaning it closes at noon on Wednesdays during July and August.

In view of the city's financial plight, some might question the decades-old contract provision that gives about 30 clerical employees a half day off with pay.

The city has tried unsuccessfully to end the practice and will try again when it soon begins contract negotiations with members of Local 450 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

"It's my feeling that employees have sufficient time off under the contract and that City Hall should be open during regular business hours on a yearly basis," Norman A. LeBlanc Jr., the city attorney and chief negotiator, said Thursday.

He said he's been unsuccessful in achieving an end to the practice in previous negotiations. None of the other three unions representing city police, firefighters or Department of Public Works employees has such a provision, he said.

For clerical workers, half days on Wednesdays during July and August have been a contract provision for decades.

Alan Strycharz, president of Local 450, said the union is willing to listen to any proposal, including giving up having Wednesday afternoons off.

But, he added, "What do we get in return to protect our employees?"

Strycharz said that while protecting jobs is a priority, the fact that nearly half the union members are at or near retirement age might make it difficult to obtain a consensus among the membership.

While younger workers might want to make concessions to protect their jobs, older workers might oppose any move to cut benefits even at the expense of younger workers' jobs, he said.

Working fewer hours during the summer is not unique to Lackawanna City Hall employees, said Strycharz, noting that employees of other municipalities also get additional time off.

And, he said, if the city wants to keep City Hall open Wednesday afternoons during the summer, it could do so by offering workers pay at time-and-one-half of what they normally earn.

Contracts with all four unions expire July 31. LeBlanc declined to discuss bargaining strategy but said, "You can draw your own conclusion" on the city's negotiating stance from the fact there is no money for pay increases in the proposed 1990-91 budget.

In his budget message calling for the layoffs of 28 full-time employees, including seven members of Local 450, Mayor Thomas E. Radich warned that any increase in pay or benefits would be at the expense of additional jobs.

There are no comments - be the first to comment