Village holds off on new union contract

SARANAC LAKE – The village Board of Trustees was set to ratify a new contract with the union representing most of its workers Monday, but the agreement was pulled at the last minute.

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Clyde Rabideau said the board met for 15 minutes beforehand to discuss contract negotiations. The contract with Service Employees International Union Local 200 was the first item on the board’s agenda, but when it came up, Rabideau said it had been withdrawn and moved on.

After the meeting, the mayor declined to comment on why the contract was pulled from the agenda.

The resolution, which was still posted online Tuesday with the rest of the board’s packet, said the village’s administrative team and SEIU representatives recently came to terms through mediation. The union’s current contract expired in May of last year. SEIU represents village fire drivers, mechanics, and Department of Public Works, water, sewer and clerical staff.

“The agreement attached is a financially sound agreement and achieves both labor and administrative objectives,” the resolution reads.

Under the three-year agreement that was signed July 29, SEIU members would get two percent raises each year of the deal. Stipends would be provided to workers who have additional water/sewer operator certifications. The deal also includes yearly uniform allowances of $200 for office workers and $425 for all other employees. A new provision of the contract would require employees to work mandatory overtime if not enough members have volunteered 48 hours before the start of a scheduled event.

The contract says the village will offer two health insurance options through Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield: an EPO plan and a high-deductible plan. As is the case with the current contract, employees would have to contribute 20 percent toward their health insurance premium on the high-deductible plan. Employees who pick a more expensive plan would have to pay the difference between that and the high-deductible plan, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

The agreement would also give employees a $250 bonus if they ratify the contract.

Later in Monday’s meeting, the board tabled a resolution to hire a new account clerk at the recommendation of Trustee Allie Pelletieri. He noted that the board, at its last meeting, said it wouldn’t hire any new full-time police officers until its contract dispute with the Saranac Lake Police Benevolent Association was resolved. Since the SEIU contract still isn’t settled, Pelletieri said the board should follow suit with the account clerk hiring, which is an SEIU position.

“Why would we hire someone there if we don’t in the police department?” Pelletieri asked.

Treasurer Paul Ellis said that the position would be filled from a list of candidates provided by Franklin County Civil Service. If village officials don’t move quickly, Ellis said they might be relegated to hiring a candidate at the bottom of the list who might not meet the village’s expectations.

Nevertheless, the board agreed to table the hiring, although a special board meeting has since been called for 5 p.m. Thursday. Authorization to fill the account clerk position is on the agenda for that meeting, Rabideau told the Enterprise this morning.