Thursday, December 6, 2007

Martha Sanford: 'AFSCME Contract Matter Resolved'

I am pleased to let you know that the AFSME contract matter has been resolved. It should have been resolved a very long time ago.

At the appearance yesterday, the State's intervention representative said although he thought that we had the winnable side there was no guarantee of the panel's decision. He also said that the decision could take up to a year. He approached both sides for a last ditch effort. AFSCME was agreeable. The Town proposed that we withdraw their proposal for 120 banking of sick days. The Union had to think of its members and all that was lost already by continuing the process so we reached an agreement. It took longer because the lawyers had to make their money writing the agreement to be read into the record. I couldn't have been prouder of the Union's Attorney who watched out for us in light of the change.

I think you have to understand why the banking of sick time is important. We did want a bank but it was the Town's fault that they didn't think it through enough. Did we need 120 days - probably not - but it wasn't our proposal. I honestly thought they would offer less than we had in our last contracts.

I came away with the knowledge that we did the best we could for our Members but also with the feeling that we were the ones that let them withdraw THEIR proposal. At least the contract is only good until July 2009 so the whole process will begin again.

I do thank the Mayor for the atmosphere we negotiated in. When Lawyers get involved they try their hardest to drag things out and intimidate. With this contract we had no caucases because things were discussed and agreed upon by give and take.

The Town Council should realize that a lawyer is not always the best way to go.

The contract gives us twelve days sick time, three of which can be used as personal days. If the time is not used then we are reimbursed 25% of the sick time left at the end of July. Most employees found this ridiculous because why be paid 25% when you could use all twelve. In order to correct absences banking the time is the easiest alternative. This time would only be reimbursed 100% to spouses or civil partners. An employee who worked twenty years would be reimbursed 50%, thirty years 100%. This time could be used for short term sick leave to ensure the employee would receive the whole amount of their paychecks. Some employees are single and the prospect of being sick with partial pay could mean much to them. I will always believe that something is needed to address this area.

I'm glad that we have resolved the matter and I look forward to working with the Mayor in the next negotiation.

Martha Sanford, AFSCME VP
New Milford

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