By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
ALBANY The state's largest public employees union filed federal lawsuits Monday against the state Thruway Authority and Canal Corp., claiming a round of layoffs earlier this year violated the U.S. Constitution.
The Civil Service Employees Association in court papers accused the state entities of sparing political appointees while targeting unionized workers when they issued more than 234 layoff notices in April, violating their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.
The lawsuits were filed in federal court in Albany. The Canal Corp., which oversees the Erie Canal system, is a subsidiary of the Thruway Authority.
"The fact that only union members were targeted proves the layoffs were meant to punish them," CSEA President Danny Donohue said in a statement. "If the layoffs were truly financially necessary, wouldn't it make sense to get rid of at least one highly paid manager or appointee?"
The cuts to workers came as the Thruway Authority dropped a plan to increase tolls on commercial trucks by 45 percent. There was no immediate comment Monday from the authority.
About 120 CSEA members were hit with layoff notices, according to the union, while the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represented the remaining employees.
Both the Teamsters and CSEA had filed complaints over the layoffs with the state Public Employment Relations Board earlier this year.