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Police union serves Lockport officials with subpoenas

LOCKPORT – A process server handed all six aldermen and Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey subpoenas from the city police union after Wednesday’s Common Council meeting.

They must appear Oct. 15 at a state Public Employment Relations Board hearing in Buffalo over the city’s failure to fully implement a contract that the Council and the union ratified in December 2013.

The terms of the contract, or at least some of them, went into effect Jan. 1, 2014, including a change in police scheduling from three eight-hour shifts per day to two 12-hour shifts.

However, the deal called for the city to keep at least 45 police officers on the payroll at all times. Today there are 43, not counting Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert.

McCaffrey voted for the contract with the Hickory Club Police Benevolent Association when she was on the Council. Two months later, she became mayor, but she wouldn’t sign the deal. “Her failure to do that now is irresponsible,” union attorney Robert L. Boreanaz said Thursday.

He said if the union wins, officers will be paid plenty of overtime for working 12-hour days when the last signed contract envisioned eight-hour shifts. He said that meetings with McCaffrey to resolve the issues have flopped “because she wants to start from square one instead of starting from the approved contract.”

Meanwhile, the city’s white-collar union picketed the meeting. The Civil Service Employees Association’s last contract expired at the end of 2014, and it was merely a two-year extension of one that ran out in 2012.

CSEA Vice President Barbara A. Parker said, “There’s no respect from our elected officials. We’re trying to be a little more vocal.”

The picket came less than a week after Roger L. Sherrie, the former CSEA regional director, won the Democratic primary for mayor to run against McCaffrey. Asked whether she thought the timing was a coincidence, McCaffrey said, “Probably not.” Parker said the picketing date was chosen before the primary.

“Clearly, I had no influence over what any individual bargaining unit does,” said Sherrie, who retired from the CSEA in January. “To try to deflect criticism for their failure to bargain in good faith onto another subject is disingenuous at best.”

McCaffrey said of Sherrie, “I think he’s made it clear his main focus is unions and I think we’re seeing the result of that. My concerns are the whole of the city and our taxpayers.”

She said a bargaining session is set for Oct. 21.

The post of city assessor is vacant again, as the interim appointment of Michael S. Hartman ran out Sept. 1. Lena D. Villella, real property appraiser, said the union thinks the next assessor should be put into the CSEA unit and hired through a civil service exam.