03/28/15 8:00am
03/28/2015 8:00 AM
Ms. Stulsky leaving court last year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Ms. Stulsky leaving court last year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

An independent arbitrator ruled last week that a former Southold Town employee convicted of stealing over a quarter million dollars from the town’s justice court is not entitled to health insurance provided through the town.

However, the arbitrator’s decision has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she unlawfully took $231,791 over the course of about five years. (more…)

09/02/14 8:00am
09/02/2014 8:00 AM

A state mediator settling a contract dispute between Southold and the town’s civil service employee’s union has released a fact-finding report that suggests the salary increases the union is seeking would “make it difficult, if not impossible for the town to function.”

The report, which isn’t binding, also suggested employees contribute more to their health insurance policies, and that the town should institute an evaluation procedure.

The report also calls the union’s request that its president to be able to leave work for three hours each day for union business would be “excessive,” (more…)

11/20/13 4:00pm
11/20/2013 4:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Labor union president Tomas Skabry addresses the board at Tuesday night's meeting.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Labor union president Thomas Skabry addresses the board at an October meeting.

The Southold Town Board unanimously passed a $41.6 million 2014 budget at a Tuesday night meeting attended by more than two dozen labor union employees who have been working without a contract since January.

After the budget passed, during the meeting’s public portion, CSEA president Thomas Skabry addressed the board, accusing its members of being complacent about contract negotiations.

And while the budget does not increase salaries for union workers, it does include pay raises for elected officials, including Supervisor Scott Russell, whose salary will see the biggest increase — a 10 percent hike to $101,000. His fellow Town Board members will receive a 3 percent increase.

Mr. Russell has said the salary increase was not included in his initial budget proposal but was added later by the Town Board.

“No matter who is in that position, we thought the salary was too low for the job demands,” Town Board member Jill Doherty explained before the meeting. “It’s basically a 24/7 job these days. We wanted the supervisor to receive as much as the superintendent of highways, which is also a 24/7 job.”

Mr. Skabry said the union does not disapprove of the Town Board authorizing raises for themselves but he feels the town’s 160-member bargaining unit is equally entitled to a pay hike this year.

“The right for the Town Board to appoint themselves a raise is something that is afforded to them by the law,” he said after the meeting. “But it is also their responsibility to afford a raise for [town] workers.”

Town comptroller John Cushman said the pay increase is the first Mr. Russell has received since 2007.

“The union workers received far more increases over the last few years than elected officials,” he said.

As he has at several recent meetings, Mr. Skabry invited Town Board members to attend the next bargaining meeting, scheduled for Dec. 11. The town has thus far been represented by outside counsel during negotiations, which Mr. Skabry said is not efficient when trying to come to an agreement.

“We did it in 2006 with members of the Town Board there along with their outside counsel and the process moved along and we were able to get a contract ratified before it even expired,” he said.

The approved spending plan, which was first introduced in late October, garnered little attention from the general public during three recent hearings.

The budget includes a 1 percent spending increase over the current year and would result in a 1.17 percent tax hike, the supervisor said. The plan calls for $23 million to be raised through taxes and uses $2.4 million in reserves.

A portion of the spending increase consists of $75,000 in deer eradication expenses, capital improvements and other operating costs.

He pointed to fuel, health care and retirement costs as key areas where expenses will continue to rise in 2014.

10/23/13 11:54am
10/23/2013 11:54 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Labor union president Tomas Skabry addresses the board at Tuesday night's meeting.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Labor union president Thomas Skabry addresses the board at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Unhappy with the pace of negotiations for a new contract, members of the Southold Town civil service employees’ union packed into Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting, pleading for members of the board to move quicker to settle a new contract.

The Town and the Civil Service Employees Association have been at an impasse since June, when both sides declared they couldn’t make any more progress on a new deal. The state’s Public Employees Relations Board became involved soon after to resolve the dispute.

The town’s CSEA employees have been without a contract since Dec. 31, when the last three-year agreement expired. Salaries were frozen in that contract’s first year, but the workers received annual increases of 4 percent for 2011 and 2012.

While town officials said the negotiations must follow the legal terms of an impasse, labor union president Thomas Skabry said he was disappointed that the two sides aren’t planned to meet again until December.

“Please take this back … discuss it amongst yourselves, see if you can expedite [this],” Mr. Skabry said.

He also urged board members to attend the negotiating sessions, citing an incident at a recent negotiation meeting that could have been avoided with a board member in the room. He declined to explain what happened during the incident.

“We do your work for the benefit of the town’s residents and business owners,” Mr. Skabry said. “Do the right thing and work with us and try and resolve a fair contract not just for our members but for all the town of Southold.”

While no town board members meet for the contract negotiations, the town’s attorney, comptroller and the town’s labor council attend on their behalf, said Supervisor Scott Russell.

“It’s in mediation now,” Mr. Russell said. “Now this is the process that’s established by New York State labor law.”

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06/14/13 10:00am
06/14/2013 10:00 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Southold’s CSEA employees, including staffers at the waste transfer center in Cutchogue, have been working without a contract since the beginning of the year.

Unable to come to terms on a new contract, Southold Town and its CSEA employes have both declared an impasse, which triggers the state Public Employees Relations Board’s involvement in an attempt to reach a settlement.

The town’s CSEA employees have been without a contract since the previous three-year agreement expired Dec. 31. Salaries were frozen in that contract’s first year, but the workers received annual increases of 4 percent for 2011 and 2012.

The union claims the town is responsible for the lack of a new contract.

“CSEA made a good faith effort to continue negotiations by offering to focus solely on the issues of health insurance, salary and job security but the town was not receptive to this overture,” said Richard Impagliazzo, a communications specialist for the CSEA Long Island Region.

The union decided to join the town in declaring an impasse because the town is demanding a 20 percent health insurance contribution while refusing to consider an annual percentage salary increase, Mr. Impagliazzo said.

Not unexpectedly, the town disagrees and says the union wants wage hikes the community cannot afford.

“The Town Board could not agree to the demands of the union’s leadership that called for annual raises of 3.75 percent each year for the next four years,” Supervisor Scott Russell said. “The Town Board not only found those demands to be unreasonable, but beyond the scope of rational bargaining.”

Wages and benefits are the single largest part of the town’s budget, accounting for 67.2 percent of the town’s $46.5 million spending plan. Salaries total $18.69 million and benefits, comprising primarily retirement and medical costs, add another $12.6 million, said town comptroller John Cushman.

In addition to base wages, town CSEA employees also receive up to five yearly step increases. On top of that, the previous contract, which still applies, includes longevity payments of from 5 percent to 8 percent a year, beginning when an employee reaches the 10-year mark, said Mr. Cushman.

Mr. Russell said the CSEA offered no concessions that would help fund the increases it seeks.

“In the absence of concessions, the burden of funding the increase falls squarely on the shoulders of taxpayers,” he said.

Both parties said they are prepared to return to the bargaining table.

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