CSEA lawsuits charge layoffs unconstitutional

CSEA has filed federal lawsuits against the state Thruway Authority and Canal Corp., charging that last spring’s layoff of union members working at the agencies was unconstitutional.

The suits claim the state violated CSEA-represented employees’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process and equal protection of the law when it let go CSEA-represented workers while sparing all management employees and political appointees.

“The fact that only union members were targeted proves the layoffs were meant to punish them,” said CSEA president Danny Donohue. “If the layoffs were truly financially necessary, wouldn’t it make sense to get rid of at least one highly paid manager or appointee?”

The CSEA lawsuits quote statements made at a Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. board meeting, held seven days before the layoffs took place, that the agencies were “in solid shape financially” and “doing very well this year.”

The union contends that management used the layoffs to try to unfairly influence the outcome of negotiations by attempting to pressure union representatives to succumb to management demands. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s negotiator, Joseph Bress, is representing the Thruway and Canal management at the bargaining table.

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