Karen Pecora, the former president of the CSEA unit representing the majority of Westchester County workers, who was laid off at the end of 2012, will have to be reinstated to her former county job, according to an arbitration ruling issued Dec. 13.
Pecora, a secretary in the Parks Department, was laid off because she was working outside the department on union duties, as allowed by the contract, the arbitrator ruled. The ruling, which is binding, says she must be reinstated with back pay and benefits.
“The County’s reason for eliminating the Grievant’s position was not due to a lack of work,” said the arbitrator, Jay Siegel. “Rather, the County decided the Grievant’s position could be eliminated because she was on full-time union leave.”
Ned McCormack, a spokesman for County Executive Rob Astorino, said they are reviewing the decision.
The CSEA president and first vice president are released from their normal county duties to work on union business as part of the union’s contract. The arbitrator said the county acted in bad faith, in part because Pecora was laid off while other secretarial positions in the Parks Department were only eliminated after the workers retired.
“I am thrilled that the hearing officer saw what really happened here,” Pecora said in a statement from the union. “I feel vindicated that the truth came out and the right thing was done. I look forward to returning to my former position.”
As president, Pecora had been critical of the administration of County Executive Rob Astorino over layoffs and stalled contract negotiations.
She had gotten a new job for lower pay with the Board of Elections while she waited for the outcome of her grievance.