Friday, October 2, 2009

Could There Really Be Union Retaliation In Kingston?

Mayor James Sottile has transferred two union city employees active in union affairs into unwanted positions in what could be retaliation for their efforts as union leaders or criticism of his administration.

The mayor says it’s only about trying to get jobs done more efficiently in the city Department of Public Works.

It sure looks very suspicious to anyone who has been following this administrations track record in employee relations.

“This is about coming up with better ways to serve the public,” Sottile said. “It is amazing to me that these same two employees keep complaining whenever they are forced to work.”

Love to hear how that serves the public better in more than just a soundbite in the newspaper.....and what does he mean by complaining?

Does he really mean representing the workers in the bargaining unit when they had to?

Bart Robins,president of the local unit of the Civil Service Employees Association, and Troy Ashdown, a former vice president, are the two employees being transferred to other positions.

Ashdown and Robins said that these moves by the mayor will not save any taxpayer money at all or make services any more efficient. The say Sottile is getting back at them for defending the rights of city workers over the years.

Both Labor leaders were involved in exposing the city for storing and stockpiling chemicals in the DPW and exposing Sottile appointed, former DPW Supervisors who were wasting taxpayer money buying things such as $60 dollar pens. They both also exposed the unfair treatment and chastising of a female city employee for "stealing air" to fill up her flat tire after work one night.

Add this to claims of sexual harrassment against the city, sexual objects being tossed at women worked under the Sottile administration, coupled with these two union representatives putting their political foot in the door when Sottile wanted to lay off workers last year and you have the possibility of Sottile not feeling comfortable around these two becoming a reality.

“Everyone knows we have been the loudest and most ardent critics of the mayor and his dysfunctional policies regarding our department,” Ashdown said.

Let us not forget that the CSEA did not back Sottile for his re-election for mayor last election.

Ashdown noted that “out of a pool of six laborers” at the sewer annex on Wilbur Avenue, only he and Robins were moved.

Ashdown has been reassigned to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on East Strand, while Robins is being moved to the public works barn on Hasbrouck Avenue.

In a letter by Public Works Superintendent Michael Schupp we have this talking head explanation to go by:

“In an effort to continue a satisfactory level of service and maintain infrastructure and health and safety standards under the department’s responsibility to the residents, businesses and visitors to Kingston, some staffing organizational changes must be implemented.” ( Their lawyer obviously wrote that excuse for them )

That's bullshit.

I challenge the new superintendent to put that in words that really mean something that he can justify.

The mayor did make one very telling comment, “I think the public is getting pretty tired of these individuals complaining when all we are asking them is to do what they get paid for.

This move was all about the "complaints" which were all legitimate concerns that they raised on behalf of fellow workers- it has nothing to do with efficiency or the taxpayers money.


DPW Dan said...

As a fellow worker in the city, this really looks like an obvious case of payback. Anyone can see that the mayor is punishing these two because they stuck up for us in the city.

I'm voting Troy back in next election.

bill s. said...

Troy Ashdown and Bart Robins had recently reported unsafe working conditions on a job at Kingston's block park just two weeks before Mike Schupp "transferred" them. Coincidental? I dont think so! Schupp stood by and watched a worker go into a manhole without safety harness and air quality checks before going down the hole.This Schupp is a fucking asshole that made his living in the state park system, not DPW. I'm hearing hes got alot to learn.

Anonymous said...

There are three definate truths that are self evident: The sun will shine, the moon shines too,and that fucking asshole Mayor in kingston is anti-union! Seems like he has a little puppet in the new superintendent Mike Schupp. The guy is an ex-politician, what do you expect? Schupp was an alderman some years ago and was a sneaky little bastard then.

collarblue said...

Bullhorner, that is a mouthful of bullshit coming out of Superintendent Schupp's mouth! Does this guy expect the people to believe this is not retaliation? I am sick and tired of management taking advantage of the workers in the community. Whats the story with the city council in Kingston, they allow this kinda shit to go on? Are we supporting any of these assholes that go after union officials?

Anonymous said...

DPW worker,
This is the mayor at his best. The mayor is the one who is punishing Troy and Bart because they bet the hell out of him in the paper. All of the mayors spitefullness was showen to the public. The mayor is a bitter man. He has no respect for anyone that stands for what is right. Now he wants to make the Union look bad by punishing and saying these two men are lazy. Well the truth is these two men worked hard at bring the Union to a place where the mayor couldn't do things like he is doing now, but the DPW workers fell for the trick of Charlie Thomas. They are going to pay for it now. Charlie Thomas made a deal with the mayor so he would keep his son on. Thomas will be out of here in 3 months you think he cares about one of the men at the DPW? Where is big mouth George? Lets see what he does for these men! Nothing he will do nothing, because he doesn't want to loose his job. Not one of these ass holes have a set of balls. These are punks, thugs, bullies. They run around on there wifes, cheat the taxpayers, think they are above the law, and most of all they lie. The mayor, charlie thomas, schupp, sweeney all the worst of the worst. Ed sweeney needs to tell his wife something doesn't he, or maybe someone else will show those pictures!The really men are those hard work men like Troy and Bart and the rest that will make a change to be treated right and no retaliation. Go get a lawyer!

Rocco said...

Bullhorner,this kind of retaliation towards union activists is common coming from anti-union employers,in this case, the Mayor of Kingston. This Mayor Sottile is no gentleman, I saw on the news some time ago Sottile throw a drink in a womans face! That kind of behavior should bring on an asskicking.He reminds me of Steinhaus across the river. He has a big problem with unions too.

The Truth said...

The City is moving Troy, who has many many years of experience in this department, and Bart who has a few years of experience in this department, in exchange for employees who have NO experience in this department.

Is any intelligent person supposed to believe there is a business reason for the transfers?? Come on people wake up!!!

The City laughed in the face of safety for many years and these 2 men took the City to task for it. Even as recently as a couple weeks ago, the City was ignoring dangerous violations, WITH SCHUPP there watching. When these men made it an issue, they are being transferred.

This has nothing to do with them trying to get out of work. Most of the safety complaints, even the ones a couple weeks ago, had nothing to do with either of their respective jobs. They were witnessing their coworkers, whom they represent, put into a dangerous situation. Bart and Troy spoke up and 2 weeks later they are being transferred?


Jeannie said...

During last years budget process Mayor Sottile preposed my job to be cut. Troy Ashdown, Sam Fratto, and Bart Robbins fought for my job and helped turn around aldermen to put my job back in budget. Then Sottile, being the regengeful person that he is, layed me off inspite, I believe. I was harrassed on the job , and endured all kinds of degrading treatment as a cancer survivor and a woman. Troy Ashdown stood side by side with me and other women that have endured similiar mistreatment in the workplace. Ashdown attended rallies for us and he spoke out regularly againnst this adminisrations policies. I firmly believe that he and Robbins are being moved because of thier prior and current union activities. This year I am running for alderwoman in the 4th ward and if I am elected I will fight against this kind of treatment towards working people that are harrassed on the job. I love the city of kingston and we could be doing better than we are.

Just a Working Man said...

Jeannie - I believe that you will do a great job when you get elected. That is what we need - some REAL people in place in the decision making end of things - not professional politicians who double talk and side step the issues in order to keep all sides of every issue hanging in the balance.

I thought it was dispicable that you were laid off and I feel the same with this latest move against Troy and Bart.

joe frank said...

What is quite surprising to me is that one would think that the Mayor and Schupp would want to watch these two fellas like a hawk. How often does s2 [thats S squared] Sottile and Schupp get down to the wastewater treatment plant?

And frankly, putting Robbins at the HQ may be good for him to handle Union business.

But I do agree with some who say why transfer these two guys to another area in DPW that they are not familiar with. Also, who is going to fulfill their two jobs? It seems to me that it puts four people and the City at-risk. We don't need another lawsuit.

Bullhorner said...

Those are good points. I would like to think this is legit but I can't see a good explanation that makes real sense coming forth anytime soon.

It just doesn't look good with those two being the two beng moved.

Anonymous said...

its not only those 2 that at being transfered some where else there are 5 other guys being moved around to just not those 2 and last i knew its all one department

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows the mayor loves law suit. He loves to spend the citys money on lawyers. I would like to know why this is the only way this man will change. He doesn't have good counsel if the only thing out of his mouth is take it to court. He is unstable as a CEO. Why would you want 3 women take you to court when you know the city had nothing in place and wanted to change the working place. Why? He is on a tare and he wants the union to look bad in front of the men and woman of CSEA. This is retaliation and those two men need to get a lawyer!

a concerned citizen said...

I am not a member of a union but I happened to come across this website and saw the issue of Sottile's retaliation to the two union members. It is so obvious the Mayor is looking for payback for having his "secrets" exposed.I am thoroughly disgusted with his behavior and wonder if he is of sound mind. If rumors are to be believed, his personal life is in shambles and he is bringing this state of mind to his office. It is time we bring back a sense of morality and civility to city hall. Let's clean house. Let's vote a new council in with a change of party affliations and create a productive dialogue with the union. Then in two years
we need a new mayor with term limits.
As for Jeanne...You are going to win. You have a purpose and a vision for your ward.
Troy and Bart, keep being the watchdogs and keep up the good fight.

The Truth said...

It makes NO real business sense, unless you're in the business of trying to silence 2 union representatives for protecting the members they represent.

Again, think about it. 2 men with many years of experience transferred and exchanged for employees with NO experience.

There is only one business reason for that. Now they can send employees into dangerous situations and there wont be anyone there strong enough to stand up and say something.

Anonymous said...

We must vote Sottile out. I hope Cahill runs in 2011.

Anonymous said...

Bullhorner, Ashdown and Robins also spoke out against the lack of union labor on the Kirkland site 2 years ago as well. They exposed there was day labor going on over at the site as well as the poor bidding process that occurred during that time.Ashdown made a lot of noise about it in the papers and that pissed off the anti-union mayor in kingston.

Anonymous said...

Sottile started his tenor as Mayor by having a truck run ove an employee and wont be happy until someone is killed.

Bullhorner said...

I don't think it was the Mayor who was driving though so how can you blame him for that?

Anonymous said...

I think this blog has brought up some good points. I am not a union member, though my father was a CSEA member for 35 years.

As a taxpayer here in Kingston, I wonder how we will survive with the increase in taxes and all the mandatory union wage increases, pension fund and medical insurance costs.

Being an election year and watching all the campaign signs coming out, the most prevalent one in our city is the "FOR SALE" sign.

Soon enough, the only people left in this city will be city employees and the not for profits.

The future does not look bright for any of us--especially if all the taxpayers move on.

Anonymous said...

Common Council voted to 'waive the 10 mile rule' for the DPW Superintenent. Last minute letter from the mayor did the trick. Now the taxpayer not only gets to pay an additional $5000 per year, they foot the bill for a truck & gas too.

Anonymous said...

Last night at Kingston city council meeting a resolution was approved to waive the mileage requirment for the Superintendant of Public works. This was submitted very quickly by the Mayor and was not on the table at the caucus the night before. It came down from the Mayor. No discussion even though Alderman Polacco tried to stop the ruling from going thru and wanted it to be discussed back in committee. He was the lone wolf. It passed 7-1. It was stated in the letter from the Mayor that there were no qualified people in the city of Kingston to fill this position even though they went thru a public advertisement/interview of the job and had to look out of the city but still in Ulster County?? So super now gets to stay in Highland, have a city truck, gas and insurance plus an increase in salary. I say, at least eliminate that increased salary or give back the truck. Submit vouchers for the gas. I know this might seem like a small amount to help the city budget but it has to start somewhere. Cannot keep bending the rules/codes. This has been done in the past and look where we are now? The same mind set is still present on the city council.

Anonymous said...

This Mayor is hateful, clueless, and pathetic. He only knows how to circle his own wagons, and he doesn't do that very well at all...when you have the combo of ignorant AND arrogant get Mayor James Sottile.

Anonymous said...

Waiving the ten mile limit 4 months after hiring Schupp is ridiculous and sticks like politics.

Wouldn't it make more sense to interview people within the ten mile radius first, then if no one is qualified to do the job waive the ten mile limit.

Anonymous said...

This story has more than one side to it. The mayor has a very difficult budget situation where he must reduce costs. It is hard to imagine a cost-cutting measure that would be welcomed by the union. Unfortunately, positions will have to be cut or perhaps the union will have to agree to concessions. It is going to be a painful transition for the affected workers and their families. But then, everyone has been affected by the recession in some way. It's too simplistic to just say that the mayor is "anti-union."