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Unions filing grievance after mayor asks them to take their own cars home at night

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - In an effort to cut money anywhere possible, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri is asking the city police and fire departments to ground take-home cars for anyone below the rank of chief, assistant chief and deputy chief.

Utica PBA President Dominick Nitti says the police department union is filling a grievance over this issue, and that such grievances in the past have most often been resolved in favor of the union, not the city or municipality.

The PBA is also filing an improper labor practice charge against the city, claiming there were no negotiations, no discussions - that the city didn't even ask; the mayor just grounded the cars effective the 27th of February.

The mayor says the move wouldn't save millions, but it would save something and more importantly, it would show bond-rating agencies and city taxpayers that the city is doing everything possible to save money everywhere possible.

"It's a token of trying to make this work, so I'm a little bit appalled knowing the PBA would do this at this time knowing the financial disarray that we're into," says Palmieri.

At issue are four captains' cars at the Utica Police Department. What Palmieri wants is for those officers to get into their own cars to go home every night, then use the city car during their work day after they drive to work in their own cars.

He says the on-call captain would be allowed to take home a city car. Palmieri says three city hall vehicles have been similarly grounded. His is not one of them; Palmieri still takes home a city car.

A call to the president of the Utica Fire Department Union has not yet been returned.

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