Oyster Bay, union leaders near pact

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012.

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012. (Credit: Nicole Bartoline)

A tentative deal between Oyster Bay officials and local union leaders could spare up to 200 layoffs, which the town had planned to cut costs.

"We've struck an accord now, which goes a long way toward keeping all of our employees working at a very fair and reasonable salary, and also assists the town in cutting costs," town Supervisor John Venditto said Tuesday.

Oyster Bay, battling burgeoning debt that includes a $13 million shortfall this year, had planned between 150 and 200 layoffs from its force of about 1,200 workers after concession talks failed last summer with Civil Service Employees Union Local 881.

Local CSEA president Robert Rauff Jr. Tuesday said he and Venditto reached a "tentative understanding" Friday and these preliminary terms seem fairer to the union.

"We haven't agreed on anything," Rauff said. "Nothing is in writing, and until it's in writing, nothing is secure."

He added that any deal must be voted on by the union membership before it is ratified.

Neither Venditto nor Rauff would detail the terms discussed, though Rauff said they involve readjusted raises, a contract extension and a no-layoff clause. The union is in its third year of a six-year contract, which would be reconstructed.

"I cannot tell you how relieved I am at the prospect that we have averted layoffs," Venditto said Tuesday, urging union members to vote in favor of the proposed terms.

Beginning Monday, Rauff said, union officials and shop stewards would notify members of Oct. 30 and 31 meetings where the plan would be discussed. A vote would come on Nov. 5, he said.

The town, mulling a $265 million 2013 budget that includes a 1 percent increase in spending, has sought to dig out of its financial hole with discretionary cuts, early-retirement incentives and layoffs or union concessions.

In a letter distributed to employees last month, the town accused the union of having "rejected" its offer. The union had called the town's proposals "completely unreasonable."

Venditto Tuesday said the two parties had exchanged "no harsh words," reiterating that management and labor in Oyster Bay were "family." The economic crisis, he said, is "a problem we're all facing."

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