The Hempstead Town board unanimously approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association that calls for salary increases totaling 8.5 percent.
The board approved on April 23 the agreement that runs retroactively from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, and defines the rights, salaries, wages, vacations and health benefits for town employees. The previous contract expired Dec. 31.
The contract includes salary increases of 1 percent in 2013, 2 percent in 2014, 2.5 percent in 2015 and 3 percent in 2016. The health insurance contribution for newly hired full-time employees and their families will be 15 percent.
The new terms and conditions of employment have been approved by CSEA members. The CSEA represents manual laborers, office workers and managers.
The town anticipates savings of $2.5 million from the employee health contribution over the length of the contract,” town spokesman Michael Deery said in an email.
Felix Procacci, of Franklin Square, the Democratic Party candidate for town supervisor this fall and a vocal critic of the contract at town board meetings, said Hempstead’s health care contribution plan is unfair to residents who pay much larger percentages to their own plans. He added that town employees are getting above-average wage increases considering they have a defined-benefit retirement plan, health care mostly paid for by taxpayers, and job security.
“These increases do not reflect the increased cost of pensions caused by the salary increases and health insurance cost increases,” Procacci said. “This almost guarantees a 15-percent-plus increase in town property taxes over the next four years. Private sector wages are not growing at this rate.”
Medical, dental and retirement benefits provided to union members by the contract also were extended to elected officials, members of the town’s appeals board and the secretary to the Town Public Employment Relations Board. Part-time employees do not receive health insurance benefits.
“It is impossible to gauge the impact of the CSEA contract on property taxes since it is only one component of an entire budget,” Deery said. “Increased costs associated with cost-of-living salary increases may be offset by early retirement incentives or employee attrition programs. In addition, property taxes are not the only source of funding for salaries.”