CITY OF TONAWANDA —
Richard D. Furlong, of the law firm Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, represented the union and, in the letter, argued that the district did not respond to a number of requests regarding employees’ medical coverage and firing decisions.
He repeated many of the same issues Tuesday.
“When an employer and a union sit down, they can work things out and problems get solved,” Furlong said. “But that’s not what has been happening.”
Furlong said staff reductions have led to employees taking on a much greater workload, and said communication with the board has been decreasing for three years.
“People are at their breaking point,” he said. “The job itself is so onerous, and there is no discussion with you about it.”
He mentioned the union’s willingness to make contractual concessions in previous negotiations allowing the board to balance the budget.
Furlong also said spouses of board members and members themselves have made negative comments concerning the employees’ skill sets.
Board members apologized for misunderstandings, but did make a point to take issue with much of what Furlong said.
“I appreciate you coming,” school board President Jackie Smilinich said. “But it’s not the board’s position to negotiate with the union, it’s the superintendent’s. And we didn’t even know about this until the letter that you sent in August.”
After a lengthy discussion, the board and the union scheduled a closed-door meeting to discuss contractual matters in an effort to improve communication.
“We want this to be a good relationship,” board member Lynn Casal said.