Protestors unite in front of Lancaster Town Hall
Robert Mueller, labor relations specialists for Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and representative for Lancaster Town employees said Fudoli made comments in a local publication to the effect that public sector workers are the “non-producing segment of society” and making this comment in the context of referring to himself as “pro-taxpayer,” he has inferred that somehow public service workers are not taxpayers in the communities that they serve.
“There are approximately 2,500 public sector union members who reside within the borders of the Town of Lancaster,” said Mueller. “These unionized public service workers not only pay their taxes, helping to sustain the budget of this town and its schools, but they shop, dine and invest locally, helping to sustain the business community of Lancaster.”
The article also quoted Fudoli saying, “People need to start waking up and realizing that the government’s not their friend, the government’s their enemy.”
Members of CSEA, as well as other local unions, banded together to let Fudoli know his comments were heard loud and clear and comments like this would not go unrecognized.
“It is hearting to see all different threads of labor standing together to fight against- whether it be public sector, private sector, building trades- to fight against dictators like this,” Mueller remarked.
He continued by saying, “this rally, demonstration, and the comments to follow at the board meeting are in response to that. At the board meeting, we will be asking the supervisor to retract his statements and to provide a formal apology.”
Dr. Rick Stempniak, professor at Buffalo State College and a union member said he has a vested interest in the town board. His wife, Donna Stempniak, sits on the town board and she is a retired Buffalo teacher.
“We have union solidarity on this board and we are not going to let Fudoli push us around, are we?” Dr. Stempniak asked protestors. “Please stick together everyone must support our brothers and sisters at CSEA and vote this bum out in three years.”
When asked about the dictator remark, Fudoli questioned “how do you become a dictator when you’re out numbered 4 to 1?”
Fudoli added he certainly respects their opinions and the way they interpreted the article, but he will not retract his statements or apologize.
“I did not mean them in an inflammatory way,” he said. “I wish they would have read the entire paragraph where it said, “’this doesn’t mean- let me make myself very clear- this doesn’t mean I am anti-public employee. It just means I’m pro-taxpayer.’”
If they read that before they the part that said “non-producing” it wouldn’t have been turned around and twisted into something it doesn’t mean, said Fudoli.
Fudoli continued to explain that to assume he is somehow against public employees couldn’t be farer from the truth as he never questions the integrity of these people or their hard work and dedication to the town.
“When I said ‘non-producing part of society,’ I was referring to the basic definition of production of which to produce a good, a tangible product and that’s the part they got confused on. I did not mean it as in they were not productive,” remarked Fudoli. “There are a lot of great workers that work for this town. Never at any point in time did I mean that to offend any of them.”
Mueller said this comment implied that public service workers do not have a profit motive in the work they do in service of their community, that they are non-producing, and somehow a drag on their communities.
“Public service workers dedicate their lives to producing better communities with the infrastructure necessary for the private sector to flourish,” said Mueller. “Without the public sector, the private sector would not have an environment in which to innovate and turn a profit.”
Listing a few examples, Mueller said teachers produce the next generation of an informed citizenry, highway workers produce, maintain, and clean the roads, and police officers produce safe communities for residents and local businesses.
“The list goes on and on, but I hope you get the point,” Mueller stated to Fudoli. “These workers deserve a pat on the back, not a kick in the teeth.”
Fudoli said they have an agenda and the agenda is very clear to him.
“Somebody like myself is a threat to them so this is their chance and opportunity to flex their muscles,” he said, referring to the negotiations with the town’s four unions. The contracts expired last December.
However, during the meeting, some residents such as Tom Kaspryzak, didn’t understand what the complaints were about.
“In fact, I thought it was complimentary of you,” he said to Fudoli.
At the end of the meeting, Marsha Cox, president of the white-collar union in the town, said they came to the meeting and said their peace.
“We brought our point across,” Cox commented. “We did what we wanted to do. We brought it to the attention. We all read it and when we read it people were insulted, especially people who have been here a long time. They were insulted and they were hurt.”
As public service workers made their way out of the board room for the night, many still upset by Fudoli’s statements, all that was muttered was, “apparently, we have to learn to read.”