North Hempstead Town officials have created a labor advisory board of representatives from local unions who will help develop labor policy and legislation.
The town board voted 5-0 at a Sept. 6 meeting to create the eight-member board. Its members are not town staff but belong to various unions, such as the CSEA, International Union of Operating Engineers and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the board was intended to “start an ongoing dialogue with labor.”
“We’ll tap into their expertise, and hopefully we'll learn from them and they’ll learn from us,” Bosworth added.
The advisory board will not be involved in union contract negotiations, said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere. In November 2017, the town and its union, CSEA Unit 7555, finalized a six-year contract that included a 1.75 percent salary increase this year. CSEA members are employed in town departments including Buildings, Comptroller, Parks, Public Safety, Public Works and Highways.
The advisory board’s first meeting has not been scheduled, Trottere said.
The town joins other municipalities on the Island that have formed formal committees to consult on labor. Babylon, Hempstead and Smithtown have advisory boards that meet monthly to discuss workplace issues, town officials said. Oyster Bay is in the process of establishing a board and is selecting members, said town spokesman Brian Nevin.
Lillian Dudkiewicz-Clayman, an adjunct professor of labor studies at SUNY Old Westbury, said she thinks labor advisory boards are a productive way of “broadening the level of communications between administrators and unions.”
“The only time you have conflict is when people are not communicating effectively, so it [an advisory board] can lead to nothing but good things,” said Dudkiewicz-Clayman, of Port Jefferson. “It would eliminate a whole host of bad feelings and misunderstandings."