School Board: Mattituck civil service employees asking for 2 percent increase

05/24/2011 2:46 PM |

Mattituck-Cutchogue School Board President Jerry Diffley put out a public challenge Thursday night to the district’s 95 non-teaching employees in the midst of negotiating a new contract, asking them to return to the bargaining table.
The union says it’s willing to talk, but only after the district makes a new wage offer.

Earlier this spring, the district’s Civil Service Employees Association proposed a four-year contract with zero percent pay increases the first and third years and 1 percent increases in the second and fourth years. The union has since withdrawn that request and is now seeking a two-year contract with 2 percent pay increases each year, Mr. Diffley said during the school board’s monthly meeting.

Mr. Diffley’s comments offered a rare public glimpse behind contract discussions, usually held in private. He said that the district’s negotiating team was disheartened after hearing of the union’s latest request, which came after a recent meeting with attorneys for both sides.

He reported that in exchange for the negligible salary increases, the union initially asked for a $500 bonus for 11 union members who had maxed out on salary step increases. After the district countered with an offer of a $250 bonus, the union made its latest contract request, Mr. Diffley said.

“We need to find out, if we bring that back to $500 will that get the job done?” he said. “They’re sticking with the 2 percent, at least in the short term. I hope we get a phone call soon that they’d like to sit down.”

But CSEA local president Sam Strickland said Monday that he believes the district should be calling the union, not the other way around.

“Let’s start from the top. CSEA is more than willing to take a year pay freeze if we have to,” he said. “They don’t want to offer anything. I just want a fair contract.”

Mr. Strickland said that the union, which represents some of the school’s lowest-paid workers, initially asked for a five-year contract with 4 percent increases each year, which he knew the district was unlikely to approve. He said the district then countered with a contract calling for two consecutive years of pay freezes, after which the union proposed the four-year contract with a pay freeze every other year.

He said he was very surprised that the district balked at what he believed was a serious concession on the union’s part.
“We’re willing to take a pay freeze, and we’re the lowest-paid people in the district,” he said.

Mr. Diffley said Thursday that while either side could declare an impasse at this point, sending the negotiations to mediation, “we’re hoping it doesn’t get to that. We’re anxious to continue to talk.”

Mr. Strickland said, however, that the union had already rejected the district’s most recent offer of a two-year contract with a one-year pay freeze and a one-year 1 percent increase, and, until he hears a new offer from the school, he’s sticking with the union’s proposal of a two-year contract with 2 percent raises each year.

“They can’t say the ball’s in our court,” he said.

The current CSEA contract expires at the end of this year. The district’s other union contract, with its 144-member teaching staff, is in place through 2014.


Applications for universal pre-Kindergarten enrollment are now available at Cutchogue East Elementary School. The district will hold a lottery on Friday, June 17, to award 27 spots in the pre-K class to district residents. Superintendent Jim McKenna said the district usually receives between 35 and 40 applications. For more information, call 734-6086.


At Thursday’s meeting, the board announced the layoff of elementary school teachers Dan Spitler, Jessica Tylee, Erin Riordan and Lisa Cooper and teaching assistants Kathy Hall and Susan Hubbard, due to budget constraints and declining enrollment. The district had not included their positions in the school’s 2011-12 budget, which voters approved on May 17. A part-time high school teaching position held by Albert Capolongo was also eliminated.

The teachers, except for Mr. Capolongo, will be placed on a preferred eligibility list for seven years, and the teaching assistants for five years, giving them first consideration when the district rehires.

The school board also approved tenure for industrial arts teacher Jason Wesnofske, elementary school special education teacher Leah Familette, elementary school teachers Dawn Rowe and Lisa Salvatore and secondary school special education teachers Mary Thomas and Christina Wilsberg.


The board rescheduled its July meeting and annual reorganization meeting to July 12 at 7:30 p.m. to permit Mattituck administrators to attend a conference in Canton, N.Y., on July 21.

At that meeting, parents and community members will discuss the school’s participation in the state program of “selection classification,” which allows junior high students to play high school sports. In the past, the district had always supported selection classification, but after controversy over the practice, the board decided last fall to re-evaluate the program annually, at each July reorganization meeting.

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46 Comment

  • RAISES for everyone except CSEA employees? Perhaps the superintendent and administrators who got handsome raises would care to “make a difference” and “give back” in FAIRNESS TO EVERYONE.

  • Why doesn’t McKenna give back his raise that he negotiated for himself for the next two years? He is asking CSEA members (who get paid next to nothing) to take a pay freeze, but he is unwilling to do the same! What makes him so special? He already makes well over $200,000 a year including his perks, and he doesn’t see anything wrong with giving himself even more money while the employees (who actually have contact with the children) making less than $30,000 get nothing? This is ridiculous!

  • everytime a taxpayer asks how much in raises are being awarded- they are silenced with the typical, “we can’t disclose details; ‘that information is confidential’ response- and the public never knows how much has spent. Suddenly, now this becomes public discussion, when it comes to CSEA members?
    Shame shame shame.

  • That’s an excellent point netwrok2011. Since when are any contract negotiations made public? Whenever the Board wants to discuss contract or personnel issues, they go into “executive session” and what they discuss during that time is not made public and not even put into the minutes for the meeting. Why did Mr. Diffley feel it was ok to go public with this information? Because it’s CSEA? Very unprofessional. I don’t remember McKenna’s raise being talked about at any Board metting!

  • and the rich get richer, and the person trying to make ends meet to PAY those huge salaries gets?
    treat everyone the same way, regardless of the task- if this is truly for the kids. right.

  • It is really a bit disturbing to learn the the Board of Ed has chosen to share these negotiation details. It strikes this reader that this might just be an effort to capitalize on community concerns about other negotiations that have maybe not been managed well and other parties that are refusing to engage in good faith discussions about voluntary freezes (who are now claiming their job is the hardest and offering to walk a mile…… all while being the highest paid member of the district who has asked for lifetime health benefits for his spouse!). Making CSEA employees the scapegoats here is really unfortunate, I wonder if we will hear of similar claims from them for their spouses?? Probably not, they know they would be laughed out of town.

    As we have all learned in the last months the big costs of any contract come from health costs and lifetime retirement benefits. I would be more interested in hearing from the board what their short and long term strategy will be to address those issues with all employees in a consistent manner and not about picking the most powerless group in the district to single out for this remarkable breach of precedent.

    Why are we not hearing from the board about their plans to address this issue for all the employees in the district? If the Board meant to make a step toward initiating some transparency into this process then we should be hearing about that, not these heavy handed attempts at mustering community outrage about a 2% raise over a 4 year term. Lets also remember that almost 100% of the CSEA employees are district residents and property owners and so are paying their “fair” share of education costs, like the rest of us, at least those who own property here.

    On the bright side, this should mean that the formerly closed and opaque window into district negotiations might be getting cleaned up and opening a bit. It seems the Board has set a precedent and the community will now be informed of the negotiation details and progress as all the other contract negotiations come due. Otherwise, this really is bullying of the most powerless…..

    After all, we know that consistency is one of the ways we learn best, seems fitting doesn’t it?

  • when taxpayers tried to ask questions at the ‘meet the candidates’ event, once again, as happened in years past, the questions were screened and monitored; the public was told it was a “PTA” sponsored event. Parents can be part of the PTA and not agree with the actions of the board or administration. All negotiations, raises are quiet; salaries are edited out of the budget, and now suddenly ‘transparency’ for negotiations with the CSEA with dollar amounts mentions.
    Give the money away, get the budget passed, then tell the CSEA workers that there is nothing left to give. Time to stop; no, wayyyyy past time to stop.

  • Working in the public sector generally means that things such as pay are open to the public. Those of us becoming more and more frustrated with the rising costs of educating our children primarily due to the increase in pay for administrators, staff and teachers becomes a matter of interest. Not because we, “joe public” care what those individuals are making per year, but more so what kind of impact that has on the overall cost of educating our children. Going to a budget meeting as a member of the community means nothing since any handouts or slideshows can be quite vague and questions go unanswered because it is then a matter of privacy. Unions had their place and their time many many years ago, however they have now over stayed their welcome and are creating an environment in which anyone associated with a union feels an entitlement to more pay without much more work. The American dream used to be about getting a foothold through hard work and making something of ourselves that proved that we are capable and willing to get the job done to better ourselves, our children and our communities. The American dream today is about asking someone to negotiate for us to get the most pay for the least amout of work. Anyone, not just CSEA and I mean ANYONE asking for a raise today not because they have proved themselves but because they think that they are entitled ought to be ashamed of themselves.