The head of Nassau’s largest union is urging county lawmakers to hold a public hearing regarding “seemingly illegal action” by the legislature’s new inspector general, contending she wants to interview a union member about alleged misconduct without allowing a union representative to be present.
Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau’s Civil Service Employees Association Local 830, said in a letter mailed to Republican and Democratic legislative leaders on Friday that Inspector General Jodi Franzese’s office is “seeking to extend its authority into matters for which we believe they have no authority.”
In the past, Laricchiuta said, whenever the county attorney investigated allegations of incompetence or misconduct against a CSEA member, the union was contacted so a representative could be present for any interview.
But Laricchiuta said the inspector general, who was hired in January, “is notifying CSEA 830 Members and the Union that she will be investigating allegations of misconduct and she will not be allowing a union representative or union counsel to be present” in violation of the union’s contract and state law.
Laricchiuta said an expedited legislative hearing may “avoid the need for costly and protected litigation.”
Asked if she was looking to interview a union member without union representation, Franzese responded in an email to Newsday that her office “doesn’t comment on pending investigations.”
She continued, “Please note, however, it is not the policy of this Office to deny anyone legal representation in an interview.”
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said, “Our understanding is that the Inspector General allows counsel to be present to represent the legal interests of the employee during the interview. We believe that any differences can be resolved through a reasonable discussion between the Inspector General, County Attorney and the CSEA.”
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said he had not seen Laricchiuta’s letter and could not comment.