Without contract in place, union seeks quicker pace in negotiations

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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