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Judge delays Suffolk security guard layoffs

A file photo of Suffolk County judge, Jeffrey

A file photo of Suffolk County judge, Jeffrey A. Spinner. (May 11, 2010) Credit: Rick Kopstein

Suffolk's unionized security guards will remain on the job for at least another week after a judge Wednesday kept the temporary order barring their replacement with a private firm.

Instead of ruling on a preliminary injunction request, State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner continued the case to July 18 to allow further negotiations between the county and the guards' union, the Association of Municipal Employees.

County Executive Steve Bellone is seeking to lay off nearly 30 guards -- most of them assigned to Department of Social Services centers -- and replace them with cheaper contractors. The guards were to be cut June 30 with about 230 other workers, but the AME sued, arguing that privatizing union jobs violated its contract.

Spinner granted a temporary restraining order against the layoffs June 19. The case remains in arbitration.

The two sides are set to sit down Thursday morning. AME president Dan Farrell said he's willing to discuss cost-saving alternatives, but the union's goal remains to keep all the guards on the county payroll. He said he doubts that Suffolk can save $1 million by privatizing security, as officials have claimed. "We believe their numbers are inflated," Farrell said.

But Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said the union would have to come up with other savings to avoid the guard layoffs. Suffolk has sought bids from private security companies and will award a contract if the court allows layoffs, Schneider said.

"If there's a union proposal to provide a million dollars in recurring savings to the county, then we're certainly open to discussing it," Schneider said. "But the key is 'recurring.' "

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