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AFSCME wants fired detention center employees rehired

03.18.09

March 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

AFSCME wants fired detention center employees rehired

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 2nd- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 Director David Antle send a letter to Luzerne County President Judge Chester Muroski and to the Luzerne County Commissioners demanding the employees that were represented by the union before the Luzerne County Detention facility was closed and laid-off on December 31st, 2002 be rehired and made whole as a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan. District Council 87 represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvaniaand has their office located in the Borough of Dunmore in Lackawanna County.

According to the letter obtained by the newspaper from Mr. Antle, the correspondence was sent to Mr. Muroski, Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla, Stephen Urban and Gregory Skepenak, on February 18th, 2009.

“As I am sure you are aware, AFSCME District Council 87 represented the employees who worked at the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Center before it was closed by the County on December 31st, 2002. Needless the say, we have read with great interest all of the articles that have appeared within the last month regarding the activity of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan and their involvement in the closing of the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility.

Prior to the closing, AFSCME representatives met with Judges Ciavarella and Conahan along with Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility. At that time, the Union was advised by Judges Ciavarella and Conahan that they controlled where children were to be sent for detention as well as the protocol used for the delivery of children to detention. Based on that power, they had made a determination that they would close the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility and send children to another facility. Needless to say, we are all aware of the fact that those children were sent to PA Child Care, a private facility in which Judges Ciavarella and Conahan, had a pecuniary interest.

As a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan to close the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility, all of the employees that AFSCME represented at that facility, lost their jobs and all of the benefits that went along with being an employee of Luzerne County. This resulted in financial loss of wages to these employees, and a loss of healthcare benefits, seniority rights and pension rights all of which they enjoyed as employees of Luzerne County.

In light of the fact that purported rationale for closing the facility was completely false, AFSCME demands that all bargaining unit employees employed at the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility who lost their jobs as a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan, be immediately offered reinstatement with Luzerne County and amde whole for any damages they may have suffered.

Luzerne County has spent millions of dollars to incarcerate juvenile offenders in private facilities. Clearly, this is a function that not only could be done by county employees, but should have been done by county employees. The privatization of this work has cost the citizens of Luzerne County millions of dollars and has resulted in unimaginable harm. Clearly, this is work that should be done by Luzerne County employees in a facility that is maintained and controlled by Luzerne County.

I am prepared to meet with you to discuss how to remedy the situation and return the work to Luzerne County and to make the employees whole for the damages they have incurred as a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan,” Mr. Antle states in the letter.

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