The Putnam Examiner

PV Holds Public Hearing To Settle Impasse Between Town And Teamsters Local

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The Putnam Valley Town Board held a meeting Thursday night to decide what to do about the impasse between the Town and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 456.

Approximately 25 Putnam Valley Highway Department and Lake Peekskill Improvement District employees, members of the Local, have been working without a contract since Dec.31, 2010.  When negotiations with the Town failed in Aug.2011, the Teamsters declared an impasse and began the process to settle the contract according to the rules set down by the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB).

The first step in the process, according to Putnam Valley Town Attorney William Zutt, was to submit to mediation.  After three sessions with no resolution, the issue moved to the second step in May of 2012, which is fact-finding.  In September of 2012, Fact-finder, Carol Hoffman, released her findings in an eleven-page report, but the Town and Union were still not able to reach agreement, thus pushing the process to the third and final step of a Public Hearing.

At issue are items including, out of title pay, holiday pay, payment of accrued sick time at retirement, and paid leave to be taken to attend a funeral.

The union and town have not been able to come to terms on the “16 Hour Rule” which states that if a worker has been on duty for 16 consecutive hours, he can take the following day off.  While the Town agrees with the concept of giving workers time off after working such long hours, the practice could cripple operations.  For example, if a 16-hour shift ended at 12 noon on a Tuesday, the worker would be entitled to have Wednesday off and not return to work until Thursday.

Another stumbling block is the compensation package.  The Teamsters wanted a 9% increase over four years, retroactive to January 2011.  The town countered with 4.75% and the Fact-finder report recommended an increase between the two extremes, but no agreement has been able to be reached.

As the final step in the process, the Town could take steps to settle the contract at the Public Hearing, only for the first year after the contract had expired (2011), and then the process must start over again for the 2012 and 2013 years.

Town Supervisor, Bob Tendy, said that this was not a personal matter, and commended the workers for their hard work and dedication. “They are second to none in the job they do,” he stated, adding that the Town must be careful how much money they spend.

The Board discussed the options and called for public comment, but the sole member of the public in attendance did not speak.  Town Councilman Louis Luongo noted that Highway workers had just finished working thirty-two straight hours cleaning up from a snow and ice storm and were not expected to attend.

The Board concluded by directing Zutt to draw up a resolution for the next meeting that would approve the contract for 2011 with the same provisions as the contract that had just expired, and included having the salary remain at the 2010 rate.  Zutt said he would look into writing the resolution to include 2011 and 2012 “to the extent that the law allows.”

It was not clear if the resolution would be approved at the Reorganizational Meeting to be held on January 2 at 6 p.m.

By Barbara O’Hare

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