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Village Workers Demand Contract

Negotiations between village and blue collar workers approaching 30 months.

Northport Village workers are demanding a contract after being without one for the past 30 months. Despite a confrontation at last week's board meeting, where both sides seemed willing to talk, no progress has been made.

"We're very frustrated, disappointed, we feel like we're second class citizens and the membership is restless," Local 342 Union President Bill Hennessey said at the meeting. "30 months without a contract; we've been in negotiations, but it hasn't gone any further. We had mediation, you know where we're at; we're at the point now that if you're not going to move, hold a legislative hearing."

About 25 village employees, represented by Local 342 Public Service Employees Union, say they want a "fair shake" at negotiations for the terms of a contract that expired in March, 2010. The Union represents the Department of Public Works, the Sewer Plant, and dispatchers for both the fire house and the police department.

Local 342 President Bill Hennessey confronted the village board in public at the last board of trustees meeting on Tuesday accompanied by about ten village workers. He said it's only the third time his union has used such a tactic in 25 years.

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"We are also frustrated," said Mayor George Doll, "especially after mediation and we had a deal, we thought, and you voted it down."

Trustee Tom Kehoe accused the union of walking away from the last mediation session in November, wherein the union members unanimously rejected the village's offer. Hennessey replied, "No we didn't walk away from the mediation, and said that the proposal was rejected unanimously by the membership because they saw it as a smack in the face. "Things were changed at the end..." he said.

The board went into executive session to discuss their response to the union, and returned after 15 minutes. "We will not negotiate tonight," said Mayor Doll upon return. Doll told Hennessey that the village would be in touch with the union to set up a meeting this week and promised that some members of the board would be present. As of Tuesday, Hennessey said he hasn't heard back and no plans have been made.

"We recognize and understand the economic times we're in, but the village, we feel, has not given us a fair shake. That's all," said Hennessey. "They put demands on us that they don't ask any other employees to do...We've contributed for all new employees hired, which is roughly about half right now, ten percent of the medical. About 14 years ago that was probably only $500 or $600, now its up to $1,800."

Hennessey said that the village workers he represents are some of the lowest paid in the surrounding area.  "These employees do not make a lot," he said. "There are three employees in the village that make $68,000 a year without overtime, that's their base salary, that's the highway foreman, the head firehouseman, and the senior sewer plant operator. Most of the people on the highway department are at $56-57,000 without overtime."

Trustee Henry Tobin declined to comment on negotiations.

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Mary Silberstein October 10, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I'm sorry but each one's base is $68,000 a year? And they are complaining about that salary? I have staff who have a Master's degree and make way less.....and have not had raises in years due to finances (not that that is good)!. My point is how is $68k bad? Please explain so that I can understand.
Mary Silberstein October 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Oh and yes they have to also pay a lot for their insurance and don't get overtime at all. What was the deal they walked away from?
Carla October 10, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Its time to seriously consider un-incorporation of the village and unshackle the village taxpayers of duplication of services and overpayments of ever increasing costs related to unrealistic salaries and related overhead benefits. Greed and indifference is killing the residents of Northport.
Mary Silberstein October 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM
By no means do I support an un-incorporation nor do I believe that our Village Officials show an indifference or a greed. Neither do the worker's who this article is about. We just need to be realistic in negotiations with what is going on in this.
Carla October 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Then pay up and thats that. Either you have real solutions or you pay the piper and keep less in your pocket as a result, and bite the bullet. Duplication and overlapping of services while exisiting alternatives exsist is not a fiscally intelligent alternative.
KL October 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Mary - read the whole article before responding - "There are three employees in the village that make $68,000 a year without overtime, that's their base salary, that's the highway foreman, the head firehouseman, and the senior sewer plant operator. Most of the people on the highway department are at $56-57,000 without overtime." sorry Karl but having but having full time workers that live in NPT make about $60k a year is not unrealstic - especially if you want them to live in the area as well
Ken Wiebke October 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I read that the highest paid workers are earning 68K with most others at 57 K . That amount certainly not excessive and doesn't support a family in the Northport area. The workers actually do physical labor rather than having sat in a classroom for a few years. Give them respect and work out a fair deal.
Carla October 10, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Its not about the salaries of a few men, its about inefficiencies costing more than is necessary. And the wages of the highway boys is not really the only issue but duplication of police salaries and other administrative salaries, and court costs. The list goes on for wasteful over payments due to an incorporation which has seen its effectiveness go away with the times.
Johnp.morris October 10, 2012 at 03:43 PM
3yrs without a contract is enough.these workers keep are town one of the best looking on the north shore.give these guys and girls what's fair. They take care of our town with Pride Good luck
John October 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Improve employee morale so that they can once again take pride in the work they do. Nearly 3 years without a contract and no sincere offer from the Village Board. Treat the employees like they're more than rubbish and they'll take pride in working for the Village again. There's no reason why this Village couldn't look like any other top tourist spot in the country. Clean with attractive plantings and pleasant staff. Main Street Northport should look like Main Street Disney World.
Jack October 10, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I believe the answer to the issue is the needed additional revenues to the village coffers. I believe it's time that the village re-assess all the village homes as many homes are grossly under taxed. For example, There is a home next to mine with the same square footage and the exact same size lot that is paying less than a third of the property taxes I'm paying. The reason: the house next door was built over 100 years ago before the first assessment in the 1930's. The added kick in the teeth is this home is owned by someone living in the pit (I hope that term doesn't offend anyone there, no offense intended) and the house in rented out. All the older homes are way under taxes and if taxed like the village homes that were built in the last 50 years or less then the village would realize an increase of revenues. At the least, an under taxed rental home should not be subsidized by other owner occupied homes.

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