Officials of the union that represents Babylon Village employees say the village made last-minute changes to its new contract, putting months of negotiations in doubt.
Civil Service Employees Association officials alleged this week that the village violated labor law by making numerous changes to the contract's language dealing with worker pay, benefits and hours after both sides had already ratified a document known as a memorandum of agreement that authorized only three relatively minor changes.
"We entered into the MOA based on good-faith bargaining . . . only to have the village attorney make these changes unilaterally," said Ronald W. King, CSEA Long Island director, referring to the memorandum by its acronym.
Babylon Village attorney Joel Sikowitz Tuesday called the union's claim "ridiculous" and said the village had conducted negotiations properly. "We signed an MOA, we negotiated a new contract," he said. "I'm waiting on them to get back to me," he said, and declined to comment further. He said all changes to the contract had been approved by both sides, and added the village has been paying union workers the increased wages retroactively.
Mayor Ralph Scordino said Tuesday the union claims are "totally bogus."
The standoff comes just weeks after officials from both sides said they were near a final agreement and happy with a deal that would have provided modest wage increases for about 20 blue collar municipal workers over the next four years. The new contract would have been retroactive to May 31, 2014, when the previous contract expired.
Scordino signed the memorandum of agreement Sept. 12 and union members ratified it Sept. 25. The village board adopted it Oct. 28, noting "the contract will be forthcoming."
But that month Sikowitz sent union officials two additional drafts of the contract that contained 27 changes, they said.
Some appeared slight, they said, but others had the potential to significantly change working conditions for its members in the village.
One, they said, would eliminate a two-week limit on the length of time the village could use temporary labor after an emergency, meaning it could rely indefinitely on contractors instead of salaried employees. Holiday workdays would have been increased from four hours to 41/2, the officials said. Another change would have stricken language calling for overtime to be awarded on a rotating basis by seniority, which union officials said could lead to supervisors rewarding favored employees.