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Comptroller employees sent home after bedbug sighting will be paid

Employees in the Erie County Comptroller's Office who were sent home by Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw after spotting a bedbug in the office will be paid, after all.

Mychajliw sent some 30 staffers home after one of them spotted a bedbug crawling across a work space on March 10.

But county personnel administrators and Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said last week the comptroller didn't follow proper procedures and sent the employees home without authorization.

County comptroller staffers may lose pay over bedbug dispute

All the employees were told they would lose regular pay for that day, as a result.

The county contended Mychajliw violated county policies by sending his staff home without approval from either the county executive or a personnel or labor commissioner. The county does not allow employees to work from home without explicit authorization from the county executive regarding a state of emergency or "emergency situation."

The comptroller then threatened to sue the county, and the Civil Service Employees Association Local 815 said the union would file a grievance to secure pay for the affected employees.

CSEA President Denise Szymura said it was unfair for employees to be punished for following their supervisor's instructions.

A bedbug captured in tape on March 10 in the Erie County Comptroller's Office.

In response, the county signed an agreement with CSEA Monday in which Poloncarz retroactively declared an "emergency condition" on March 10, and personnel and labor relations commissioners retroactively authorized employees to be paid as working "offsite."

In exchange, the union agreed not to file a grievance in the matter.

In an email to employees, Bryan Fiume, the comptroller's chief of staff, wrote, "The Comptroller is pleased to learn that you will be paid, and happy this situation is behind us. Going forward, we will continue to press the administration for a cleaner and safer work environment because you deserve it."

Administrators with the Department of Buildings and Grounds say about 10 bedbugs have been spotted on different floors of the Rath Building over the past several months, but are likely being carried into the building by visitors, not breeding within the building.

So far, the county said it has spent $2,300 treating all of the areas where bedbugs have been seen.

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