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A state appellate court has upheld the Erie County Board of Elections' right to hire and fire workers at will and refused to order binding arbitration over the 1993 firing of Donald Cummins, the board's former office manager.

In a unanimous ruling, the five-member Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester upheld the decision State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Howe made last August against Cummins and the Civil Service Employees Association, the county government's white-collar union, last summer.

In a one-paragraph ruling, the Rochester court agreed with Erie County Attorney Kenneth A. Schoetz that the county's collective-bargaining agreement with its unions doesn't affect the Elections Board.

The appellate court agreed with Justice Howe that state election law gives election commissioners "absolute and unfettered authority to hire and fire employees of the board at will."

Cummins, a 12-year board employee, was fired Aug. 6, 1993, almost 18 months after he opposed the appointment of the current GOP elections commissioner, Ralph M. Mohr.

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