Do union members in Essex County really want their birthdays off?

Essex County officials have been locked in a fierce labor dispute with union leaders, who have declined to give up a 4% pay increase next year, despite the country’s deep deficits.

In the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, Lohr McKinstry explores all this.  One detail of Lohr’s article jumped out at me.

He reports that union leaders apparently had five demands, in order to reopen next year’s contract for negotiation.

“[Essex County chairman Randy Douglas] said the county might have agreed to at least three of the five union stipulations, including one that union workers get their birthdays off.”

Union officials didn’t respond to the Press-Republican’s request for an interview, but this left me really curious — even a little stumped.

Given the economic crisis, and the serious difficulties facing both government and private sector workers, do public employee unions like CSEA think it’s appropriate for their workers to get a holiday on their birthdays?

Is that really one of their top demands?

And would county officials actually agree to such a thing?

I’ve never heard of government agencies or private sector employers viewing birthdays as a work holiday, but maybe I’m missing something.

As always, your comments welcome.

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16 Comments on “Do union members in Essex County really want their birthdays off?”

  1. I have no problem with them getting their birthday off… so long as they get one less optional personal or vacation day.

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  2. Peter Hahn says:

    Its not uncommon to give employees a certain number of personal days off. It doesnt really matter what you call them. The issue is the total number of them.

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  3. John Warren says:

    This sounds an awful lot like standard union bashing from the media. You’ve mentioned there are deep deficits, but fail to report the status of Essex County worker wages. For all we know, they could be at the same level (adjusting for inflation) as the 1950s! And probably are!

    Not only has Lohr McKinstry not verified in his reporting that this is birthday issue actually true, now you’ve repeated it without verification.

    Is it too much to ask to get some confirmation before the media reports something like this?

    Have local media learned NOTHING from the recent nonsense over the War on Christmas Carols?

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  4. Pete Klein says:

    Since no one ever had anything to with haven been born, celebrate the things you have done – like having a job. Be thankful for that.

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  5. John W’s point has merit but it always bugs me when a person or organization declines to comment for a story and then whines that the media outlet only presented one side of the story. Unlike the ADE recklessness, the PR journalist appears to have attempted to get the other side of the story.

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  6. Walker says:

    Brian – MOFYC says: “Unlike the ADE recklessness, the PR journalist appears to have attempted to get the other side of the story.”

    The ADE says: “The next day, when one of our reporters tried to follow up, Principal Theresa Lindsay and district Superintendent Gerald Goldman had the day off work; the reporter left messages for them. Ms. Lindsay was back at work on Friday, but the superintendent was still off and so was our reporter until that evening. With still no response from the officials by Friday night, we ran the story, taking it from the concerned parents’ point of view. We assumed that the lack of response from school officials, and the non-denial by the board, indicated they didn’t want to talk publicly about a controversial issue.”

    So it’s not like they didn’t try at all, it’s just that the attempts were a bit lame.

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  7. brian mann says:

    Another fact that made me comfortable blogging about Lohr’s story is that his source was a named public official who has a very strong reputation for accuracy and honesty.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  8. OnewifeVetNewt says:

    I’m a long-time public employee union member and one-time local vice president, but I agree with Brian. Why, since the budget is now passed, is the union unwilling to acknowledge it’s demands? But of course, since the Essex County Board gave into them without cutting dozens of union jobs, it’s uncompromising position apparently paid off. This is the kind of thing that gave us right wing governments elected in Wisconsin and Ohio.

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  9. Fred Goss says:

    i worked with a lady who always had her birthday off…I knew about it, she took a vacation day, it was no big deal…I have never heard of it being an “official” holiday…what we called “basket leave” in the Navy.

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  10. scratchy says:

    The truth is that unions tend to be very seniority oriented. They, generally speaking, would rather throw new employees under the bus and let them be laid off than agree to a wage freeze without any offsetting benefit increases.

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  11. Walker says:

    Scratchy, sad but true, you’re right. I helped start a union chapter in Vermont years ago, and we had a very idealistic union rep from the AFT– no throwing anyone under the bus. But I’ve seen plenty of what you’re describing since, and it is discouraging to see a union behave so.

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  12. Sorry but the ADE thing was such a potentially inflammatory story, you wait until you get the full story. It was not so timely that it couldn’t have waited a few days to get it right, rather than potentially subject some poor kid to undeserved harassment without even any public interest benefit. Shame!

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  13. Kent Gregson says:

    I’ll bet that the memories of those in Essex county will not be as kind or grateful in future responses to the unions after the unions response to the county’s fiscal situation.

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  14. Mervel says:

    The union’s job is to get the best deal it can not be a good citizen. The elected county officials jobs are to represent the interests of the taxpayers who are funding the government.

    I would put more of the blame with the county elected officials than the union. This is the problem with government unions and the reason that FDR opposed them in the first place. The county elected officials could very well be unable to do their job correctly because they are negotiating with an interest group that put them in power in the first place. If government unions are buddies with the elected officials charged with negotiating union contracts how could the taxpayer ever come out okay?

    It is no different than the regulators of an industry being paid by that industry, it leads to the same level of corruption.

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  15. Zeke says:

    I know, I know, those execs from those banks that got bailed out and those wall street firms that delt in derivatives they all got their birthday off too. Wait, wait, maybe that was they got millions in bonuses yeah I guess that was it, I’m sorry I made a mistake. Man I bet those execs wish they could have had their birthday off!

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  16. Mervel says:

    I know! The best union in the US is the one that represents the banking industry and Wall Street, not THAT is how you run a union! I mean what a negotiating strategy; help us with billions of taxpayer dollars that we already stole; or we ruin the economy.

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