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COUNTY EYES PROTECTING RESERVISTS' BENEFITS

Some Erie County leaders want to make sure that county employees who are U.S. military reservists do not lose out on money, benefits or sick time if they are called into service.

A new resolution before the Erie County Legislature calls for military reservists to be guaranteed 30 days of paid leave, job protection and an extension of all benefits while serving on active duty.

The Legislature was expected to consider the measure during its regular session at 2 p.m. today.

Legislator Dale W. Larson, R-Lancaster, sponsor of the resolution, said he received phone calls from county employees worried that they might have to use up sick time and vacation time if they are called into service. They also are worried about their benefits, he said.

"This is all about taking care of the families of these people. I feel that is our responsibility," Larson said.

The lawmaker said he does not want to take any credit for the legislation. "I'm not a legislator today; I'm an American citizen," he said.

The City of Buffalo took similar action this week, when the Common Council voted to guarantee full pay to city employees who assist rescue efforts in New York City or are called up for military duty. That measure passed unanimously.

The Legislature and Common Council actions come in the wake of the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil, the Sept. 11 attack by hijacked commercial airliners of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington.

Giambra administration officials said they did not yet know how many county employees are reservists who could get called up.

"We're doing some research. We're looking at what happened with Desert Storm," said Brian D. Doyle, director of labor relations for the county, referring to the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf. He said that there have not yet been any estimates of how much such legislation would cost the county.

e-mail: cvogel@buffnews.com

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