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Oyster Bay layoffs loom over negotiations

Although 7 percent of the town's 1,261 workers

Although 7 percent of the town's 1,261 workers agreed to a buyout, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto had been hoping that 100 workers would leave and the union would agree to concessions to avoid layoffs.(Sept. 21, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and union leaders have agreed to meet next week in a final effort to avoid what town sources said could be as many as 150 layoffs.

Both sides say they are far apart on contract salary concessions and it is unlikely they can agree on a way to avoid layoffs, after the town said not enough workers agreed to a buyout by this week's deadline.

For the past few months, the town and union have met extensively and drafted many proposals, Venditto said, "all in an effort to not only avert layoffs, but more importantly, to keep the town on its current path to financial recovery."

The supervisor said negotiations ended Aug. 1 when the union rejected the town's demands. "The requests, which included a payroll lag and no raises in 2013 and 2014, would have averted layoffs," he said. The administration will still work with the union, he said, while remaining true to its highest priority: avoid raising taxes.

"Therefore, while layoffs are difficult, they remain necessary," Venditto said.

The town said if employees accepted the two years without raises they could receive the 4 percent raise specified in the final year of the current six-year contract.

"That's not something we can live with," CSEA Local 881 president Robert Rauff Jr. said. The union initially agreed to restructure the contract if it could receive a two-year extension, Rauff said. The union later agreed to a one-year extension if it could receive a 1 percent to 2 percent salary hike in that year. Rauff said the town agreed to a one-year extension but with no salary increase.

"The union was prepared to save them $40 million and not get back even a fifth of what we had given up," Rauff said. He said the union had proposed the lag payroll plan that would start immediately and push back the biweekly paydays for the rest of the year to save the town $4 million this year.

He said the lag payroll and the 89 employees who agreed to early retirement this week "would already pay off what they claim that they're in the hole for this year. People are going to lose their jobs because of their financial mismanagement."

Although the 89 employees represent 7 percent of the 1,261 workers, Venditto had said he needed 100 workers to leave and the union to agree to concessions to save the financially strapped town $10 million annually to eliminate the need for layoffs.

Venditto has blamed the town's $13 million budget shortfall on the ongoing national recession.

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