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Lockport takes union to court in assessor fight

LOCKPORT - The City of Lockport filed suit last week to block its white-collar union from trying to collect an extra $6 an hour for some work done by Lena D. Villella, the city's real property appraiser.

The Common Council's majority made it clear earlier this year that it wanted Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey to fill the city assessor's post with Villella, sister of Alderwoman Anita Mullane, D-2nd Ward. Instead, McCaffrey chose Tracy A. Farrell. In May, the Civil Service Employees Association filed an unfair labor practice charge over the appointment.

In August 2016, Villella filed a grievance demanding $6 an hour in extra pay for 12 hours of work Farrell told her to do in verifying the content of building permits through in-person visits to properties. The Council Personnel Committee denied the demand.

The city's lawsuit claims that in the wake of Farrell's appointment, it spent $30,000 on outside counsel to investigate a claim by Villella that she was discriminated against because of her gender and age, which the probe found groundless. However, in November, Villella filed discrimination charges against the city with the state Division of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


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