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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