The town of Oyster Bay’s public sector union elections on Friday will decide whether members give its leadership another chance after agreeing to an unpopular contract.
While negotiations were going on in the fall, Civil Service Employees Association Local 881 President Jarvis Brown said he was focused on saving jobs in the face of a layoff threat. But in an interview earlier this month he acknowledged some members had been unhappy with the results.
“I took a beating through these contract negotiations,” Brown said in the interview. “I’ve been beaten up enough.”
Brown declined to talk about the elections in that interview and did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Union members will be voting for president as well as for officers.
The contract deal that was agreed to in January — after the first vote had been delayed and then rejected in the fall — included a 2 percent pay cut and other concessions, including requiring new employees to pay into their health care.
Keith Wilson, a labor supervisor in the town clerk’s office who is running against Brown to lead the union, said Monday that his slate challenged the current leadership team to a debate but “they refused to debate us” and they will go ahead with a “meet the candidates” night on Thursday in Hicksville.
Wilson said in an interview last week that the union leadership hadn’t done enough to protect the workers.
“The contract that was agreed upon should have been a zero increase, not a 2 percent give back,” Wilson said. Brown and his team “should have held out maybe and stood more firm and see what could have been done in a different way.”
When former Town Supervisor John Venditto threatened last year to lay off 150 workers in 2017, both town officials and Brown said a no-layoff clause in their contract would have expired. Newsday reported at the time that legal experts disputed that it would have expired under state law. Wilson said it should have been challenged in court.
Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s administration, which inherited the contract when Saladino was appointed on Jan. 31, hasn’t taken a position on the elections.