Two of three fired transfer station workers rehired

Enterprise file photo — H. Rose Schneider

Jeremy Springer handles cardboard at the Knox transfer station in January. The town board hired Springer along with two others on New Year’s Day, replacing the three former transfer-station workers there. Now, two of the former workers have been rehired.

KNOX — Two of the three fired transfer-station workers have been reinstated — although apparently with fewer hours — after they were replaced in January in a split vote by the Knox Town Board.

Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis confirmed for The Enterprise on Thursday that Joseph Adriance and Richard Dexter were hired last week following negotiations between the workers’ lawyer and the interim town attorney who is the son-in-law of one of the replacement workers.

Their first day back at work was on Tuesday, April 30.

At the town board’s reorganizational meeting on Jan. 1, the board had voted, 3 to 2, to hire Glenn Walsh, Jeremy Springer, and Lee Harnett to work at the transfer station, ousting Mark Young, Adriance, and Dexter. Lefkaditis, along with his two Republican running mates, passed the measure while the board’s two Democrats voted against it.

The three fired workers have said they had no warning about the firing and had been given no reasons.

Adriance described his first day back as “a great homecoming.”

“We have a lot of friends here,” he told The Enterprise.

The town hall had been packed with irate citizens at two town board meetings following the ouster.

The three positions are Civil Service jobs; New York State law protects laborers, like Adriance and Dexter, who have been on the job for five years or more from dismissal or disciplinary action without undergoing the proper procedures.

Adriance has worked for five-and-a-half years at the transfer station, and Dexter has worked there for 16 years. Young, who had worked for the town for only three years, was not protected by the law and was not reinstated by the town.

Young told The Enterprise on Friday that he will not be pursuing any further legal action himself since the county issued its decision.

“I feel like I’ve exhausted all other avenues,” he said.

But Young said that he expects the town will soon have to cover the cost of his former coworkers’ legal fees and other expenses.

Lefkaditis said that — despite The Albany County Department of Civil Service determination that Dexter and Adriance were wrongfully terminated— he personally does not believe the town did anything illegal, but he said he did not want to burden the taxpayers with the cost of a legal battle.

Letters and emails from a Freedom of Information Law request made by The Enterprise revealed that the Albany County Department of Civil Service had begun investigating the firings in January after being alerted to an amendment protecting laborers with five years on the job when The Enterprise contacted the department the week of the firings; an email says the county department was not informed of the law’s change by the state.

Last month, the department ultimately decided that Adriance and Dexter were wrongfully terminated in violation of the state’s Civil Service Law.

County spokeswoman Mary Rozak said that the opinion did not have any legal impact other than serving as an opinion. It was up to the town to use that opinion however they saw fit, she said.

Lefkaditis said that Walsh will be leaving his job at the transfer station to work at the town park, which he said Walsh had done last summer as well. Walsh is the father-in-law of the interim town attorney, Javid Afzali. Lefkaditis said it has not been discussed whether Walsh will return to the transfer station in the winter or not.

Lefkaditis also said that keeping on the three workers hired in January will not cost the town more, but rather Gary Salisbury — the deputy supervisor and town highway superintendent who also oversees the transfer station — will determine how the same number of hours are divided among the new and old workers.

Adriance and Dexter were hired at the same rate of pay that had been agreed upon for the transfer-station workers in January, said Lefkaditis. The part-time positions are paid at a rate of $13.82 an hour.

When The Enterprise visited the transfer station on Thursday, May 2, Adriance, Dexter, and Springer were working there. Harnett was not there; Lefkaditis later said that some days a worker may be there and other days may not be, based on scheduling.

Salisbury was appointed the deputy supervisor in January 2018, following a failed attempt by Lefkaditis to have him appointed the year prior when the board had a Democratic majority who thought a board member should have the post. The current town board, in adopting new operating procedures in October 2018, had designated Salisbury to direct the transfer station.

Springer is the son of June Springer, who is running for town council on the Republican line this fall, along with Lefkaditis who is running for re-election as supervisor. Adriance is married to Joan Adriance, who intends to run for town clerk on the Democratic line.


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