Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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February 5th, 2019

Legislators Must Deliver Meaningful Union Contracts Or Face the Consequences at the Ballot Box

This November all Sullivan County Legislators will be up for election.

As legislators begin their campaigns for reelection and candidates emerge – There is one group of voters that cannot be over looked and that is the Sullivan County Workforce.

It is outrageous that our legislative body will not come to contract terms with the backbone of our county. It is deplorable that correction officers have not had had a contract in years.

No one should have to be reminded that our county workers vote and so do their families, and they will do what they must do if they are not treated with the respect and paid the wages they deserve.

The plight of the County Worker is real and I asked Sullivan County Teamster Union Representative Jerry Ebert to speak directly to you about the need of his union members.

By Jerry Ebert, Sullivan County Teamster Union Representative

 Sullivan County Government Employees are the largest single group of workers in our area.

 We are also the lowest paid.

How low? If you search the county portal, you’ll see 18 job classifications (including account clerks, domestic aides, typists, receptionists and other important positions) that are hired at $10.67 to $12.19 per hour.    

The classifications above them are paid an average of $10,000 per year less than equivalent positions in local towns, villages, school districts, prisons, and every surrounding county (including Delaware County!).

We have county employees bringing home $275 per week when all the deductions are included.

In the past six years our pay has increased a total of 4.5 percent. With the county’s huge medical plan payroll deduction, many of us are making less now than in 2012.    

It’s as though the county puts money in one of our pockets and takes it out of the other.    

As the largest body of employees in the county, our local economy needs us to spend cash in stores, restaurants and other businesses.    

Yet many of us can’t afford to keep food in the refrigerator, let alone enjoy a date at the diner or a spin at the casino.

Our county economy will never be healthy until its working people are provided a decent income.

We need to build a vibrant middle class to keep our economic wheels spinning.

Instead we’ve created a near-slave working class that carries the burden of county responsibilities and sacrifices mightily on behalf of the residents we serve.    

Most county employees work two jobs, which damages our family life and affects our energy-levels at both workplaces.

No working person should be expected to work two jobs. It is the bane of our society, and goes far to explain later behavioral issues with our children as well as our high divorce rate.

We’re tired of being tired.

We’re tired of being last on the list of county priorities.

We’re tired of seeing county leaders routinely approve huge expenditures for other projects (such as the millions of dollars on new buildings, new properties and infrastructure upgrades), while ignoring the people who are the backbone of county services. It seems as though inanimate objects are worthier of investment than our employees.

We’re tired of waiting. For too many years county leaders have implored us to take staff cuts and low pay in the service of the county budget. Yet every time we turn around, the county is being tasked by our towns and villages to assume more local responsibilities, whether it’s a broken bridge or a broken victim of abuse.

Do you know the county is presently responsible for the upkeep of nearly 500 local bridges? Are you aware that when local school districts and towns don’t collect their anticipated taxes, the county makes up the difference? All this money would allow county employees a decent raise if it wasn’t continually siphoned from the county budget.

We understand our towns and villages face enormous pressure to lower their taxes; virtually all of us are local residents who pay those taxes.

Yet it seems like a kind of scam, a shell game, when those municipalities shift their responsibilities to the county, lowering their taxes while increasing our county budget, and putting decent raises out of reach for us.

If crap flows downhill, we’re in the ditch at the bottom of the mountain.

As Teamster union rep for the 525 members of the Main Unit of county employees, my only hope is that some county leaders actually do recognize the plight of county employees. They know something significant needs to happen. They are actually trying to address our needs during the past 20 months of negotiations. This includes County Manager Josh Potosek, County Legislative Chairman Luis Alvarez, and legislators from both sides of the aisle.

However, it disturbs us that our county leaders are under enormous pressure from some towns and villages to share more county revenue, when employees in those same municipalities make significantly more than our county workers. It disturbs us that some legislators are more worried about the county budget than our well-being.

Our Main Unit Negotiating Committee believes the next few weeks will be crucial.

We’re asking for a significant raise.     

We’re asking for the county to upgrade many job classifications that are woefully underpaid.

We’re asking for a step system to give more money to employees for each year of service to the county. That way, new employees are not paid the same as someone here for 20 years, as now happens. Such a step system is allowed for some county employees, but not the Main Unit.

Of this I am sure: Main Unit county employees are not backing down this year. We’re going the distance in our negotiations because we no longer accept being placed last on the county’s list of priorities.

Please do all you can to express to county legislators your sympathy for our cause, and your support of our struggle.

If you help us, you are helping yourself AND the county economy.

For not only do we help your elderly, your veterans, your addicted, your mentally ill, your single mothers, your abused children, your neglected seniors, your poor, your homeless, your DMV needs, your business filings, your gun permits, your criminals, your probationers, your roads and bridges, and dozens of other services.

We help your economy. Without us, your economy stagnates.

Help us help you.

Thank you.

Thank you – Jerry Ebert – I hope someone finally listens!

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.


2 comments to Legislators Must Deliver Meaningful Union Contracts Or Face the Consequences at the Ballot Box

  • Christine Mayer

    Thank you Jerry, we are tired of being treated as if we do not count, enough is enough!!!

  • Lynn

    It’s true of Sullivan County! Always balancing the budget off under paid county workers. Pay people a decent salary and get RID of those Overpaid executives that floats work down to those same underpaid employees. No money, but executives get PAID TOP DOLLAR FOR WHAT? A messed up economy in Sullivan County they DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIX! But who LINE THEIR POCKETS!