Sullivan lawmakers, union reach agreement on layoffs

MONTICELLO -– Sullivan County legislators have authorized, and County Manager Josh Potosek has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Laborers International Union Local 17, which represents county employees in the Division of Public Works.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting potential loss of at least $10 million in County revenues, legislators previously agreed to temporarily lay off 78 employees (including 22 DPW workers) with the intent to return them to work when and if finances allow. Thanks to federally enhanced unemployment benefits and the county’s promise to continue paying its share of health insurance premiums, laid-off employees should not see a significant fiscal impact in the short-term.

“Union leaders helped us avoid triggering the ‘two-men-in-a-truck’ requirement in the Laborers union collective bargaining agreement,” Legislature Chairman Robert Doherty said. “Had that provision been kept, the county would have faced a $500,000 increase in expenses to man each DPW plow truck with two people instead of one. That would have forced us to make deeper cuts.”

Doherty said without the cooperation of the Laborers union, “we would have had a much more difficult situation on our hands. We thankfully avoided that scenario.”

“Even with the promise of continuing health insurance payments and time-off accruals, it has been agonizing determining who is laid off,” Potosek said. “I’m grateful to LIU’s negotiators for their willingness to partner with us in charting the course of least pain for our employees. That remains a bright spot amidst an incredibly challenging time.”

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