Board members of Suffolk County's largest public union suspended union president Dan Farrell for 60 days during a heated meeting Thursday and rolled back firings and suspensions the union leader imposed over the past week.
The 38-member board of the Association of Municipal Employees voted 24-2 for Farrell's suspension, with six board members abstaining, according to those who attended the meeting.
"You must vacate the premises of AME and relinquish your day-to-day duties as president," stated a notice delivered to Farrell by email Thursday afternoon. The letter also ordered him to relinquish the building keys and any union property. Farrell also faces several undisclosed charges before the union's six-member judicial board.
Farrell faces a four-way re-election race in March to head the 6,300-member union, which represents white- and blue-collar workers.
The board's action came after Farrell opened the meeting and began to explain the firings and suspensions but was drowned out by angry union officials, most of them unit presidents representing various county departments.
Michael Finland, the union's executive vice president, described the two-hour meeting as "tension filled."
A frustrated Farrell unexpectedly adjourned the session after 10 minutes and left the room but returned later to remove the tape recorder that was recording the meeting. Farrell also had security guards on hand who ordered the board members to leave the union's Bohemia headquarters, saying the lights would be turned off and police called if they refused. In a later email to Finland, Farrell called the meeting illegal. He did not return calls for comment.
Finland, who is running against Farrell for president, continued the meeting after the union's parliamentarian was consulted by phone. Barry Peek, union attorney, said continuing the meeting was legal because Farrell sought no vote of board members to adjourn.
He said Finland simply presided over the ongoing meeting when the president departed.Brian Macri, medical examiners unit president who also is running against Farrell, supported Farrell's suspension. "This should be about members, but Dan turned it into to a dictatorship," he said.
Finland said Farrell's suspension had nothing to do with the union election or "any self-serving purpose."
Christopher Cuddihy, another candidate for president, said he voted against the suspension, saying all sides should have compromised.
Ignoring the suspension, Farrell late Thursday sent notices ordering the six union officers on full-time release from county work back to their jobs pending a board meeting Thursday.