Legislators work to eliminate ‘hostile’ office environment

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County legislators on both sides of the aisle are working to end the turmoil that has plagued the county clerk’s office for almost two years.

In an attempt to be rid of what they say is a “hostile” working environment, Democrat legislators Jake Mulcahey, Mike Kunzwiler, Doug Malone, Amy Tresidder and Dan Farfaglia and Republican legislators Terry Wilbur, Shawn Doyle and Margaret Kastler have been working together and separately to address the problems.

Some employees have alleged they are harassed almost daily by management and memorandums might back up their claim. Among the memos the employees have received are orders to remove a coffeemaker from their break room and dictations prohibiting them from speaking to legislators in regard to anything not related to record searches.

Signs with public prohibitions litter the walls and some legislators have said not only are they unsightly, but unnecessary.

“I think they are an insult to the public,” Kastler said. “I found that the people that work in the clerk’s office are very professional and helpful and to insult the public and to insult the employees is wrong.”

Kastler said the signs are unwelcoming to visitors to the office and as a legislator, that is not the image she wants the office to portray.

The problems don’t end with signs and memos.

An employee was charged with insubordination for refusing to train a co-worker, although the office has two supervisors whose job duties include training.  The employee was given a 30-day suspension without pay. The employee is fighting the charge.

The employees have been labeled “disgruntled” by management and have filed numerous grievances to no avail. The employees allege that their union president has not been aggressive in pursuing an end to the abuse.  Some legislators agree with the employees.

Friday, legislators exchanged e-mail correspondence after receiving a concern from an employee who had never filed any complaints in the past.

The legislators copied CSEA union president Bill Reed, who responded, “To set the record straight, the union has been involved with this poorly run office and the serious personnel problems it causes for many years and have pursued grievances, arbitrations and unfair labor practice charges against the management.”

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