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Hempstead supervisor seeks to reassure workers after lawsuit

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, seen on April

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, seen on April 12, 2018, filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn personnel changes approved before she took office. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen sought Monday to reassure the town’s workforce after she sued the town board and the town’s union last week seeking to overturn personnel changes and a no-layoff union agreement approved in December.

Gillen filed a lawsuit in Nassau County Supreme Court last Wednesday in the hopes of undoing the moves, which were approved during former Supervisor Anthony Santino’s last meeting on Dec. 12.

Gillen sent an interdepartmental memo to the town employees Monday, writing that the previous administration’s actions prevent her from “exercising my budget authority” and put the town government “in a precarious position in the event of a fiscal emergency.”

The no-layoff clause to the Civil Service Employees Association Local 880’s collective bargaining agreement — approved 4-3 by the town board on Dec. 12 — now says “no employee shall be terminated for reasons due to budgetary, economy, consolidation, abolition of position or curtailment of activities, but may be terminated only for misconduct or incompetence.”

Gillen’s memo, which erroneously says the town board voted on the measures on Dec. 17, states to employees that “you may have heard” about the lawsuit.

She wrote that “the goal of this suit is not to jeopardize the hardworking employees of the Town; but to restore the rightful authority to this office to properly represent the taxpayers of our Town.”

Local 880 president Charles Sellitto said in a statement Monday he was “deeply concerned as to what motivated this eleventh hour action.”

“The only possible result of nullifying a no-layoff clause would be ‘to jeopardize the hardworking employees’ covered by the clause,” he said.

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