ALBANY, N.Y. - Civil Service Employees Association announced Monday they have filed federal lawsuits against the state Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. charging that last spring's layoff of union members working at the agencies was unconstitutional.
CSEA says the suits claim New York State violated their former employees' constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, and equal protection of the law when, during contract negotiations, it threatened to and did, lay off around 300 CSEA-represented workers, while sparing all management employees and political appointees.
"The fact that only union members were targeted proves the layoffs were meant to punish them," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "If the layoffs were truly financially necessary, wouldn't it make sense to get rid of at least one highly-paid manager or appointee?"
As further evidence that the layoffs were politically rather than financially motivated, the CSEA lawsuits quote statements made at a Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. board meeting, held just seven days before the layoffs took place, that the agencies were "in solid shape financially" and "doing very well this year."
The Thruway Authority responded by saying, "We have not seen any detail or documentation regarding a possible lawsuit suit by CSEA and we do not comment on matters under litigation."
The suits claim the state violated CSEA-represented employees' constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process and equal protection of the law when, during contract negotiations, it threatened to and did in fact, lay off CSEA represented workers, while sparing all management employees and political appointees.