Carl Paladino, Buffalo Bully

The candidate lets his employees know who's boss

Paladino fared even worse when the labor board examined the firing. A panel found Paladino's testimony in the case to be "vacillating, contradictory, and inconsistent." It also noted that he demonstrated "substantial animus towards the union." The real reason he disliked Lisa Walden, the report stated, was because "she was someone who was not afraid to speak up for herself or on behalf of others, and would be likely to challenge Paladino as a shop steward."

The board ordered Walden reinstated, with back pay, including the 15 cents an hour she'd been denied. Paladino was also instructed not to interrogate employees about their union activities and to post a notice of its findings for everyone to see.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what this incident says about how the tough-talking Republican might behave in office. Paladino's equally plain-spoken campaign manager, Michael Caputo, said he'd make the candidate available to discuss his feelings about organized labor, but then couldn't find the time. Paladino's past public statements suggest that he doesn't have much use for unions, neither those representing public employees, nor private-sector workers like his own office cleaners. "I don't see any advantage to having a union," he told his hometown paper, The Buffalo News, a couple of years ago when a "Justice for Janitors" push was under way in Buffalo. "I think they are dinosaurs," he added.

Morgan Schweitzer

We do know, however, that a big chunk of the candidate's fortune stems from his many office leases with government agencies. Last year, the Paterson administration tried to win some modest improvements for workers maintaining state offices by extending the prevailing wage law to cover them. An outraged Paladino immediately filed suit, calling it just another outrageous governmental power grab. He sounded like a true tough guy as he spoke.

trobbins@villagevoice.com

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