Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Union calls for reinstatement of former data processing director

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 12:19 PM EST

VERNON — Former Data Processing Director Arthur Beirn said he does not know why he was abruptly fired without cause Monday, and union officials are calling for his immediate reinstatement.

An employee since 2007, Beirn served as president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 818, and union representative Timothy Oppenheimer sent an email to Town Administrator John D. Ward shortly after Beirn was terminated.

Beirn, “was not even afforded the limited rights required under the Loudermill decision,” a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that guarantees public employees the right to a public hearing and due process, Oppenheimer wrote.

In addition, Beirn “was not provided with the 30 days’ notice and other rights … of a proposed removal,” as provided under the town charter, he said.

Oppenheimer said that until the Town Council has made a final decision about a proposed termination, the employee’s salary must continue. But Ward said Tuesday that Beirn is no longer being paid.

“As we believe anti-union animus motivated this action by the town,” Oppenheimer said, and the union will be filing a municipal prohibited practice complaint.

Ward responded to Oppenheimer in a letter, saying, “I deny all of the allegations in your correspondence. Mr. Beirn was terminated for just cause from the Town of Vernon in accordance with all applicable laws.”

Beirn said today that he would be filing a personal grievance in addition to the union’s complaint, and AFSCME spokesman Larry Dorman said the union plans to file a second complaint related to the termination’s violation of the charter.

Beirn has another grievance pending in regard to the 45-day unpaid suspension former Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy gave him in March and a hearing on that matter is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Beirn said he was not given a reason for the suspension and had to pay his own insurance during that time.

In terms of the justification for his termination, “I did not receive a performance review or anything in writing,” Beirn said.

Republican Mayor George Apel declined to comment today.

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