The union representing Amityville police officers says a village board plan to reduce extra pay for regularly scheduled night shifts that officers work violates its contract, and it has begun a grievance process that could end in arbitration this summer.
The reduction, which is not scheduled to go into effect until September, would cut officers' pay by an average of $4,000 annually, trustee Nick LaLota said.
Amityville PBA president Chris Mullin released a statement through a representative accusing the village of breaching its contract with the union. "What the Village has done is an unfair labor practice which will burden residents with unnecessary court costs," he said. "The PBA looks forward to the opportunity for a neutral arbitrator to review the grievance and make a legally sound decision."
The dispute comes after months of ill will between the union and a majority of the trustees, including LaLota, who say six-figure salaries on the 25-officer force are threatening the long-term financial health of the village. A state review earlier this year found that the village was among the most fiscally stressed in New York, with spending on police accounting for a significant portion of its yearly budget.
The village budgeted $325,202 for night differential pay this year. LaLota said the cut to night differential pay, which he described as an "administrative correction," would save about $100,000.
Extra compensation of 12 percent of the top step officers' and sergeants' base pay, known as "night differential," is written into the PBA contract, intended to compensate officers for a schedule that typically includes six months of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shifts every year.
Village officials propose to cut that bump to 8 percent. They refer also to a clause in the contract that calls for night differential to be adjusted to equal the Suffolk County PBA's, which would mean only a 7.5 percent bump for an officer working half of his tours at night.
Based on that interpretation, LaLota said, the village proposal is relatively generous. The village will not pursue clawbacks and gave union officials and lawyers ample notice of the change, he said. "We wanted to be as liberal as possible," he said.
That, he said, was in contrast to the PBA position. "By asking for more than their Suffolk County counterparts, they fail to recognize the dire financial straits this village is in," he said.
The village board and PBA have until mid-July to settle the union's grievance, according to the contract, after which the matter will be sent to arbitration.
A person familiar with negotiations between the board and the union described the relationship between the two sides as acrimonious.
"To say there's no relation between the village and the PBA is putting it mildly at this point," the person said.