A labor union's effort to force Erie County to either reinstate 24 county clerical workers with full pay or continue to provide their health insurance was rejected by a state judge Tuesday.
State Supreme Court Justice Donna M. Siwek dismissed the Civil Service Employees Association's suit over the layoffs.
She ruled that Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra and the County Legislature "properly eliminated" the jobs under provisions of the County Charter in August.
CSEA spokesmen in Albany said the union's legal department is reviewing Siwek's decision before deciding its next step.
Siwek agreed with First Assistant County Attorney Andrew B. Isenberg's contention that CSEA attorneys misconstrued the Charter's mechanism for dealing with budget problems.
Under the Charter, the county executive must report budget problems to the Legislature and suggest corrective action. The Legislature must then "take such action as it deems necessary to prevent or minimize" budget problems, Siwek held.
Siwek said that an Aug. 13 Legislature resolution approving a budget transfer that eliminated the jobs was sufficient and that Giambra "did not unilaterally abolish the positions," as the union had contended.
The judge also rejected the union's contention that such action eliminating jobs could be taken only after the county executive formally declared the government to be running a deficit.
The union had sought court rulings to provide a return to work for all 24 clerical workers in various departments and full reimbursement of lost wages. It had said that it was willing to post bonds monthly to cover the cost of continuing the workers' health insurance during the court case.
Isenberg had argued that the county's improved computer system had rendered the 24 clerical jobs unnecessary and that the layoffs were justified in part by the continuing budget problems.