Niagara County lawmakers set new tone on contract talksby jmaloni
Nemi directs negotiators to begin monthly briefings
Signaling their impatience with unresolved contract negotiations between the county government and the unions representing county employees, Niagara County lawmakers will instruct the county's negotiating team to begin conducting regular closed-door briefings on the progress of talks.
The announcement, made by a pair of committee chairs Monday afternoon, is an effort by county lawmakers to gain better insights into the ongoing contract negotiations, which have now run for more than two years.
The move follows the September declaration of an impasse in negotiations by the Civil Service Employees Association, the American Federation of State, Municipal, and County Employees, and the Deputy Sheriffs Association.
The directive is being issued by Administration Committee Chairman Tony Nemi, R-Lockport, who explained, "The Legislature shares the frustration many feel about a lack of resolution to our county's contract negotiations, and we want to know where the sticking points are, at this point."
The contract negotiations, managed by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz, have been ongoing since 2012, when contracts negotiated by former County Manager Gregory D. Lewis expired.
"While the county manager form of government places responsibility for negotiations with the unions on the county manager, many legislators I have talked to have expressed concern about where this process stands and want to increase our oversight," Nemi said.
Nemi was joined by Community Services Chairman Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, whose committee oversees a significant portion of the county workforce. McNall, a former school board president who has seen his share of labor negotiations, termed himself "disappointed" with the lack of progress in labor talks.
"As chairman of the Administration Committee, Legislator Nemi will be directing the county manager and the county's negotiating team to begin briefing the Legislature at monthly executive sessions about the progress of contract negotiations with our county unions," McNall said. "This is being done in hopes of helping bring about a speedier resolution to our current contract talks."