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New Castle, CSEA Contract Stalemate Goes to Informal Hearing

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The contract dispute between the Town of New Castle and its Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) plays out in public this week as representatives for the parties explain their positions regarding a recent Fact Finder’s recommendation.

An informal hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting as both sides have been unable to come to terms on a successor agreement. The stalemate has been ongoing since the last contract expired on Dec. 31, 2020, despite negotiators for the town and the union reaching a Memorandum of Agreement. Membership of the roughly 60-employee group rejected that agreement in 2021.

Mediation also failed to produce a new agreement last year.

On Mar. 15, the Town Board voted 4-0 to accept the Mar. 1 recommendations of Fact Finder Tom Linden and schedule a hearing for this week.

“Unfortunately, since the town has not heard back from the CSEA concerning whether they are willing to accept the recommendations of a fact finder, the town is prepared to continue with the dispute resolution program provided for in the Taylor Law,” Supervisor Lisa Katz said.

Key recommendations include retroactive salary increases of 2 percent for 2022, 2.25 percent increases for this year and next and 2.5 percent annual salary hikes for 2025 through 2027.

There would also be a one-time 1.5 percent lump sum payment that would be effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The Alcohol, Marijuana and Drug Testing Policy’s disciplinary section would be amended by calling for a 20-day suspension without pay for a first offense and mandatory completion of an Employee Assistance Program. A second offense could result in disciplinary charges being filed.

Tom DePole, vice president of the CSEA’s executive board, said one of the two key sticking points is the drug policy that goes from a three-chance system to a two-strike model. The CSEA legal department has advised the union that the language is too broad, he said.

“It’s hard to say who is going to be hurt by this,” DePole said. “Does it really help anyone or does it hurt everyone? It needs some clarity.”

A second point of contention is that the 1.5 percent lump sum payment fails to include longevity compounding of the dollar amount toward the employees’ pensions. DePole explained that the employees served the town well through COVID-19 and it’s unfair of the town to offer less than what was granted in 2020.

“We’re only asking for .4 percent more than what we got in 2010,” he said.

The fact finder’s recommendations are not binding.

Tuesday evening’s regular board meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.


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