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Oyster Bay Town Board OKs moves to end some union grievances

Oyster Bay Town Hall in 2016.

Oyster Bay Town Hall in 2016. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The Oyster Bay Town Board amended its public workers contract Tuesday to resolve several grievances filed by the union.

The board approved restoring six paid holiday workdays to sanitation workers. The current contract had cut that pay for those days — more than a dozen — for sanitation workers but not other town employees.

The union wanted a further restoration, but Civil Service Employees Association Local 881 president Jarvis T. Brown said they had gotten “something” rather than “nothing” and would press for more when they request the town reopen its contract in 2020.

“We’re going to still be focusing on getting those back in the reopener,” Brown said Tuesday.

The restoration of holiday pay means that sanitation workers will get paid 15 hours of straight time for working a normal day on Presidents Day, Columbus Day, general election day, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said after the meeting the restoration of six days was the product of a negotiation that was “fair to all.”

The restoration of the six days was contained in one of four memorandums of agreement negotiated between Brown and Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. last week and approved by the town board Tuesday.

Under those agreements, the town will now collect union dues from part-time employees — though town spokeswoman Marta Kane said in an email Tuesday it only applies to employees who opt in to union representation and would have $10.23 deducted from each paycheck. The union agreed to end a challenge seeking to end a two-week payroll lag. The town also agreed to title changes for two employees and made a technical change to the contract’s pay scale for union employees hired since Jan. 1, 2017.   

Town officials did not provide estimates of the cost of agreements in the current budget. 

The union is seeking more from the town. In a letter sent to members last month, union leadership listed 15 items they want from the town from future negotiations in a reopened contract. Some of those items include extending the contract beyond Dec. 31, 2021, raises, reduced health care costs for new employees, discounted child care, a four-day workweek and more vacation days.

The union and Brown have faced criticism from some members over concessions made in the current contract.

Attorney Svetlana Sobel of Syosset, who represents dozens of sanitation workers who sued the union last year over its representation, said the agreements appeared to be “baby steps in the right direction” toward restoring what her clients lost in the current contract.

Last month, state Supreme Court Judge George Nolan in Riverhead dismissed the sanitation workers' lawsuit.

"While the terms of the CBA [collective bargaining agreement] may have been disadvantageous to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs' complaint fails to set forth factual allegations demonstrating the union's bad faith," Nolan wrote in his decision. 

Brown said the judge’s ruling vindicated the union.

“We negotiate to the best of our ability, and at the end of the day it just shows proof that we did nothing wrong,” Brown said.

Sobel has filed a notice of appeal.

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