Brookhaven Town and its unionized white-collar employees have agreed on a new 12-year contract, ending acrimonious negotiations that lasted two years.
Workers will get annual raises ranging from 2% to 3% for 10 years retroactive to Jan. 1, and the town dropped its demand that employees extend their work day by a half-hour.
“It is a very fair agreement and will ensure that we have labor peace during that time," Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Thursday before the town board voted 6-0 to ratify the agreement.
Jerry Laricchiuta, president of the Long Island Civil Service Employees Association, which represents the town's white-collar employees, said the agreement was "a good step" forward. He said members voted 200-94 on June 14 to ratify the deal.
“Considering the times right now, obviously it was the best that we can do. Our team did a good job and I think the raises are fair,” he told Newsday. “I know they took a long time to get this done. We need to move forward now and hope the economy gets better.”
Laricchiuta said he was pleased the work hours were not changed.
“That was just not going to happen," Laricchiuta said. "You want to increase people’s workweek, you have to increase their pay. This is America. You’re not going to go backward,” he said.
White-collar unit employees had worked without a contract since Dec. 31, 2019, when their previous contract had expired. The unit represents 315 town employees, including clerical and office staff, building inspectors, fire marshals, law department investigators, assessors, information technology specialists and other positions.
In addition to annual raises through the new contract's expiration in December 2031, employees will receive $1,000 bonuses for both 2020 and 2021.
Union officials last year went public with their frustration over the failure to reach an agreement. White-collar unit president John Kelly appeared at several town board meetings last year and early this year at which he accused town officials of failing to negotiate in good faith.
He also said adding hours would amount to employees working extra time for free.
Romaine had denied asking employees to work additional time without compensation.
A state mediator was appointed last fall to help facilitate negotiations. Laricchiuta said the mediator was discontinued on May 5, and the union negotiated directly with the town after that.
He said the union plans to continue discussing with town officials several unresolved issues, such as compensation time and standby pay. Those issues were not significant enough to block approval of the new contract, he said.