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Suffolk AME union backs Bellone for re-election

Brian Macri, of Mount Sinai, the president of

Brian Macri, of Mount Sinai, the president of the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees union, says the union has endorsed Steve Bellone for another term as county executive. The photo is from April 29, 2015. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Suffolk's largest municipal union, the Association of Municipal Employees, is endorsing County Executive Steve Bellone for re-election despite past layoffs and a reduction of 1,000 employees in the county workforce over the past four years.

AME president Brian Macri said the union's board chose Bellone "because we feel he is working with us and will do the best for the county." Macri acknowledged some members may be unhappy about it.

He said GOP challenger James O'Connor could not make himself available at times when the union was conducting interviews. Citing schedule conflicts, O'Connor said he appealed for alternate screening times -- "I was trying like crazy to get over there" -- but it didn't work out.
O'Connor has called for establishing a financial control board in Suffolk, to relieve the county of what he called onerous labor contracts.

Bellone said in proposing his 2016 budget that he has "no plans" for a lag payroll next year. The county has that option under the current union contract.

A lag would postpone two weeks' salary, with the money returned to employees when they retire, at the later rate of pay.

Macri said AME and Bellone are negotiating a new deal "so we don't get lagged." Members would get to vote on any deal, Macri said.

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