Judge's ruling paves way for DiCesare to join union

Stonington — A New Britain Superior Court judge has dismissed an appeal from the town clearing the way for Highway Supervisor Louis DiCesare II to join the union that represents town hall professional administrators.

The town had appealed a decision by the State Board of Labor Relations to allow DiCesare to join the Stonington Public Administrators Association. Since last June, when he formally requested to join the SPAA, the town has fought his attempt to join the 15-member union.

But Judge Carl Schuman agreed with the labor board’s position that the court did not have jurisdiction over the appeal.

First Selectman George Crouse said Tuesday the town will not take any other legal action to prevent DiCesare from joining the union.

“He’s in. Congratulations and welcome,” Crouse said. “ I’ll welcome him as part of the SPAA union.”

Crouse said the town appealed DiCesare’s membership in the union as a “technical matter” based on the advice of town labor attorney Michael Satti.

Michelle Zulawski, an attorney who works for Satti, filed the court appeal late last month saying that, based on the evidence, the labor board had made errors in its ruling.

Zulawski argued in the appeal that DiCesare would be aware of the town’s negotiations strategy in term of wages and benefits for the Highway Department, and there would be no restrictions on his sharing that information with the SPAA union.

She also argued that the highway supervisor would be the only nonprofessional employee among the other 15 members of the union and that the labor board was in error when it ruled there were other nonprofessional employees in the bargaining unit.

Schuman found the town did not substantiate its position.

In January, Director of Public Works Barbara McKrell suspended DiCesare for five days without pay. The suspension cost DiCesare, who earns $78,800 a year, approximately $1,515.

Among the reasons McKrell cited for the suspension in a six-page document were DiCesare telling her that she doesn’t trust him, disobeying her orders and making errors that cost the town $125,000.

But DiCesare, who has worked for the town for 11½ years, including six in his current position, disputed the charges and said he never had a single disciplinary incident during his employment with the town. He said he also believed McKrell was retaliating against him for trying to join the union.

The Day has filed a Freedom of Information request with the town seeking an accounting of the money it has spent on legal fees to oppose DiCesare’s membership in the union.

j.wojtas@theday.com

Twitter: @joewojtas

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