Southampton Expected To Make Union Settlement Determination

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The Southampton Town Board is expected to approve a controversial part of a settlement agreement with the union representing town workers at the next Town Board meeting on Tuesday, July 26.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he expects the majority of the board to authorize him to sign a settlement with the union that will classify certain administrative titles as union positions, as long as the rest of the larger agreement is resolved.

The full settlement agreement would add 34 administrative titles to the existing union contract, and it would also approve raises for six positions, accelerate the pay raise schedules of those employees and reduce health insurance contributions for some employees, among other adjustments.

Laura Smith, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, confirmed that a draft settlement is being reviewed by the town and the union, and she expects the Town Board to make a final determination at its next meeting.

“This is actually all due to the highway superintendent overstepping his authority and bounds,” Ms. Smith said at a July 12 Town Board meeting.

The entire settlement originally required the signature of Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, which Mr. Schneiderman said a Public Employees Relations Board judge will mostly determine is not required. Mr. Gregor refused to sign the settlement approved by the majority of the Town Board, arguing that the titles should not be added.

“I am elected to be the chief executive officer for the town,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “He is not. I cannot do my job if he is exercising a power I don’t believe he had.”

Councilwoman Christine Scalera defended Mr. Gregor, stating that despite concerns over fiscal consequences of the settlement being voiced earlier this year, the board majority decided to move ahead. In March, Ms. Scalera called the settlement a “one-sided deal” that could cost the town a half-million dollars in the first year alone due—in large part—to a decrease of contributions toward health care by the union members to 10 percent.

“Bringing down contributions into health care when there is no benefit for the taxpayer in exchange is unprecedented,” she said. “It was not done correctly. We should have reopened the contract renegotiation and we would have talked about these things transparently so the taxpayers would have been fairly represented.”

“This whole thing is such a disgrace to the town and to the union because we tried to put an elephant through a mouse hole and nobody can function,” Councilman Stan Glinka said after a heated debate ensued between Ms. Smith and members of the board.

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