The six female members of the village of Lynbrook's Police Civilian Unit (CSEA Local 882) continue to wait for a new contract.
The last collective bargaining agreement for the police dispatchers and neighborhood aides expired on May 31, 2009 and attempts to negotiate a new contract have been unsuccessful. After the village and the union failed to negotiate a settlement, the parties took advantage of the "conciliation and impasse procedures" afforded under New York State civil service law and went through mediation but still no agreement was reached so a fact-finder was appointed. Both sides met with the fact-finder, Eugene Ginsberg, explaining their positions and submitting evidence, and in mid-September, Ginsberg released his report.
Ginsberg recommended the village grant the union a five-year contract with a zero percent pay raise for the first year, a three percent raise for each of the following two years, and a 4.5 percent raise for 2012 and again in 2013, along with adjustments for longevity, health insurance and personal time.
Speaking at a public hearing held during Monday night's work session, Village Attorney Ken Grey suggested Mayor William Hendrick and the rest of the board, reject the fact finder's recommendation, calling it "too generous ... fiscally irresponsible for this village and not in the best interest of village residents." Grey said that the package called for a compounded salary raise of more than 15 percent over five years.
Under NYS Civil Service Law (Section 209:3:E:4), Grey said the village board is "empowered to legislatively impose terms and conditions of employment (salary only) for a one-year period from the date of the expired contract." He recommended they force a zero percent salary increase on the union for June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2012, as they continue to work on a long-term agreement. According to Grey, the village's other unions, including its Department of Public Works employees, took a zero percent salary-line increase during this same period.
Speaking on behalf of the six female workers, who were present at the public hearing, Stanley Freer, the chief negotiator for the CSEA Local 882, said the women are underpaid for the titles they represent. The police dispatchers are 30 percent below average and neighborhood aides are 13 percent under average.
"We've been trying for 17 years to change that," he said. "We had some hope in these negotiations that that would happen."
Freer wanted the board to accept the fact-finders recommendation, which he said mirrors the package the village gave to its other CSEA unions, including the DPW.
"We never disagreed with the fact that the first year would be a zero," he stated. "It is fair ... One of our units has already accepted it and we're willing to accept it as well."
Freer urged the board not to follow the advice of their legal counsel, adding, "If you impose the zero [percent for one year], we are back at the table again to negotiate 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and so on. It is time consuming, costly and we'll wind up at fact-finding again if we don't agree.
"We're not asking for anything exceptional," he argued. "We're asking to be treated fairly."
Grey stated that when the village agreed to the deal with DPW, it was before the state imposed the two-percent tax cap, adding, "The world has changed."
But Freer argued that when the village made the offer to DPW in March 2011, it was aware that the tax cap was imminent. "No one can say honestly that they did not know about the 2 percent tax cap," he said and also pointed out the cap is irrelevant because the village voted last year to override it.
Ultimately, the board voted to reserve its decision on the matter for now so it could further discuss its options in executive session with its legal counsel.