Town of Oyster Bay leaders hailed a recent agreement with its employees’ unions that they claim is a win for the town, its unions and its residents.
“It’s a glorious day in Oyster Bay,” affirmed Supervisor Joseph Saladino at the Jan. 9 meeting before the board entered into executive session to get briefed on the agreement with Local 881 of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA). Later, it was passed unanimously.
The new stipulation modifies the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by allowing the town to hire part-time workers in certain departments while also giving back salary decreases that employees had agreed to when signing the CBA in December 2016. The CBA runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.
Back in April 2017, the union filed two grievances. One claimed that the town violated terms of the CBA by “unilaterally implement[ing] a change of recycling routes which altered the work day of recycling personnel by adding an average of 300 homes per route. Employees were not paid overtime.”
The second grievance accused the town of hiring part-time staff to help pick up trash, and noted that per terms of the CBA, “For the period January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018 there shall be an elimination of all part-time employees in the Public Safety, Bay Constable, and Sanitation Departments.”
Department of Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz denied the grievances, and the union then filed two demands for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. Further negotiations resulted in a settlement of all claims and disputes.
Town Attorney Joseph Nocella, who helped negotiate the agreement along with Thomas M. Sabellico, special counsel, explained the circumstances that led to the conflict.
“The town was incurring tens of thousands of dollars in overtime, especially in our Sanitation Department,” he noted. “And in order to address the [issue]…we began to employ part-time workers.”
Following negotiations, the agreement “settles both grievances and does so on terms that are acceptable to the union as well as the town,” Nocella said.
Per terms of the stipulation, the town can hire up to 90 part-timers to work the sanitation routes during the length of the CBA. In public safety, the ratio of full-timers to part-timers is fixed at 50-50, but there will be no restriction on hiring part-timers from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
In return, the labor force, which had agreed to give back 2 percent of its salary in each biweekly paycheck from Jan. 1, 2017 through the end of 2018, will begin getting its pay restored beginning in July 2018.
According to Saladino, “We will be able to reduce our operating costs and improve services by having more people who are part-time. We won’t have to pay full-time salary and benefits packages and [this] allows us more flexibility in providing these services at lower cost.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia observed that she was in office during the town’s “darkest hours. The workforce really gave back to us and sacrificed a lot over the last couple of years and I think we’re moving in a much more positive direction….The workforce helped us cut millions when we needed it.”
“We have to tip our hat to our employees,” agreed Councilman Thomas Hand. “It’s a tough job at times and they stood up when it was time to take a cut on behalf of our taxpayers and I want to go on record as thanking them and giving back to them what they deserve.”
As a result of the agreement with its employees’ union, the Town of Oyster Bay is seeking 40 part-time sanitation workers to assist and help streamline single stream recycling operations.
Part-time sanitation employees will earn $15 an hour, working side-by-side with the town’s full-time sanitation workers during their normal routes and work hours. The town is seeking individuals who can work during regularly scheduled pick-up days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday) and hours of operation (scheduled 10 hour work days, with task completion).
For more information, call the Town of Oyster Bay’s Department of Public Works at 516-677-5803 and an application will be mailed to interested individuals.
Spokesperson Marta Kane told Anton Media Group that, as of Jan. 19, 50 applications had been mailed out.