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ORDA approves labor contract; move comes after order

July 19, 2013
JESSICA COLLIER

LAKE PLACID - The state Olympic Regional Development Authority approved its labor contract after keeping workers hanging for a year.

ORDA's Civil Service Employees Association members had been without a contract for five years, since the last one expired March 31, 2009. CSEA and ORDA negotiated the contract until the talks stalled, then the contract went to mediation, and workers picketed until ORDA offered the union a contract in January 2012.

The union voted to agree to that contract in February 2012, and CSEA representatives say ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer sent a letter to the union saying it would appear on ORDA's June 19, 2012, meeting agenda. It didn't, and it didn't show up on agendas after that.

The union filed an improper practice charge that July with the state Public Employment Relations Board. The board reached a decision this year on May 22, and ordered that ORDA execute the contract.

At the next ORDA board meeting, held June 25, the board went into a closed session after the bulk of its discussions, then came back into session and, among a few other decisions, unanimously voted to ratify the contract with no discussion.

ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin declined to explain why it took so long for ORDA to approve the agreement, saying that ORDA doesn't comment on negotiations or contracts.

"I'm not going to comment on the details of the contract," Lundin said. "But we're happy that it got done, because the guys work very hard, and they're the backbone of our operation. We're pleased to present that agreement to them."

"What ORDA did was wrong and now they have made it right," CSEA President Danny Donohue said in a press release. "It's a shame it took them so long to treat our members fairly and with respect."

CSEA representatives note that the contact was originally offered three months before the union's Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health was set to take place in Lake Placid.

"The union conference brought 1,000 union members, and their wallets, to the resort town and CSEA was considering moving the conference elsewhere due to the stalled negotiations," reads a press release from CSEA. "Many members of ORDA's Board of Directors' own businesses that benefit from the influx of cash the union conference brings."

The press release also states that the ruling came despite attempts by the Cuomo administration to interfere with the case.

"The Governor's Office of Employee Relations advised the authority to refuse to stipulate to any facts, including those already in evidence," it notes.

The approved contract includes a retroactive 4 percent raise from April 2012, said CSEA spokesman Stephen Madarasz.

"It wouldn't have been retroactive if they had actually implemented the contract they were supposed to," Madarasz said.

It also gives workers a 3 percent raise from April 2013 and will give them 2.75 percent raises in April 2014 and 2015.

The contract runs through March 31, 2016.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@adirondackdaily

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