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Raises for Oyster Bay Union Workers

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

This article first appeared in Newsday.

Oyster Bay municipal union workers will get an additional raise in 2020 under an agreement approved Tuesday by the town board.

The amendment to the collective bargaining agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association Local 881 gives town workers a 1.5 percent raise on January 1 and keeps an already scheduled 1.9 percent raise effective July 1.

“The town is willing and the union is willing to come together and negotiate terms and conditions for the betterment of our employees,” said Jarvis T. Brown, the president of Local 881.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed following the unanimous board vote approving the amendment.

As of January 2019, the union represented 925 of the town’s 993 full-time employees, according to town financial documents.

Under the five-year contract approved in January 2017, workers had agreed to a 2-percent pay cut in 2017 to be restored in 2019. Last year the town board amended the contract to restore workers pay to 2016 levels six months earlier than required under the contract.

Over the past decade the union has made numerous concessions including a salary freeze, payroll lags and reduced benefits for new employees.

“This is taking steps in the direction to return to the workforce what they had given when the town was in lean times,” said Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr.

Last year the town board partially restored some of the deferred pay.

“I wish the amount given back to our workforce was higher,” Councilman Anthony Macagnone said as he voted to approve the amendment. “We’re doing well financially. These people stuck with us when we weren’t.”

Carman, who signed the agreement on behalf of the town government, said the additional raise will add $1.1 million to the town’s payroll costs. The 2019 adopted budget included $83.3 million for salaries. Carman said the raise approved Tuesday will be incorporated into the 2020 budget that is currently being prepared.

“There’s no need to raise taxes to do this,” Carman said.

The union has the right ask the town to reopen its contract in 2020. In April the CSEA sent a letter to its members that included a list of 15 items they wanted from the town in a reopened contract.

Raises were among those items, which also included extending the contract beyond Dec. 31, 2021, reduced health care costs for new employees, discounted child care, a four-day workweek and more vacation days.

“We’ll have continued discussions after the first of the year,” Carman said.