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Suffolk union guards no longer face layoffs

Unionized security guards in Suffolk County will keep their jobs under the terms of a settlement announced last week.

The Association of Municipal Employees, which represents 14 guards who work at multiple county buildings, dropped its grievance against the county just before an arbitrator ruled.

In exchange, the county will not lay off the guards and will rehire four others who had transferred to Suffolk County Community College.

"We're very happy," said AME executive vice president Michael Finland. "The workers will still be employed."

About 30 municipal guards were initially among 230 Suffolk workers slated to be laid off last summer. County Executive Steve Bellone said then that using the Bronx-based firm Dreamland to provide security would save about $1 million annually.

But AME went to court to argue that the county was violating its contract by privatizing a union function without giving it a chance to respond with a viable alternative. The parties agreed to arbitration last fall after a judge ruled that the layoffs could go forward.

Suffolk faces a projected $250 million deficit through 2014, but Bellone spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said Thursday that keeping the guards on will have no new fiscal impact because their salaries were in this year's budget.

Dreamland staff have taken over some county security functions, but work alongside unionized guards. The county guard ranks shrunk from nearly 30 to 14 through attrition and the community college transfers.

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