New public works contract in place

NAUGATUCK — The borough and public works employees have agreed on a new three-year contract.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved the contract between the borough and Local 1303-12 of Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, the public works employees’ union, on Dec. 1.

The contract, which covers 26 employees, is effective retroactively from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018. The contract is projected to cost the borough $82,980 more than the current agreement over the life of the new deal.

The main driving force for the increase is salaries. Under the terms of the contract, wages will increase 2.5 percent in the first two years of the deal and 2.75 percent in the third year.

The increase in wages will total $113,902 over the life of the contract.

The salary increase is partially offset by savings in health care.

Public works employees have the choice of a high-deductible health care plan or a PPO health care plan this year. Starting on Jan. 1, 2016 only the high-deductible plan will be available to employees. The deductibles under the high-deductible plan will be $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families throughout the life of the contract.

The cost share for employees under the high-deductible plan will increase incrementally from 50 percent in the first year to 75 percent in the final year of the contract.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the borough is working towards shifting every employee to a high-deductible health care plan.

“This is the key feature from the town’s standpoint,” Hess said. “It reduces health care costs dramatically. The future benefits of this are very important for the town.”

The contract also includes language changes in several areas.

Among the changes is how overtime is distributed to employees. According to the contract, an employee that is on vacation will no longer be offered overtime.

This change comes following a grievance filed by employee Steven Kilmer and the union. The grievance alleged that the borough violated the previous contract by not offering Kilmer overtime when he was on vacation.

The borough ultimately agreed to pay Kilmer $314 for the time he would have worked if he had been offered overtime, and the grievance was withdrawn.

Hess said the language was clarified to ensure this type of situation could not happen again.

The contract also limits supplemental pay to 52 weeks related to an absence resulting from a work related injury; previously it was allowed in perpetuity. Also, language was added that allows the borough to retire or discharge an employee if an injury or illness prevents the employee from performing the essential functions of the position without reasonable accommodation for 12 consecutive months or 18 months during a two-year period.

Jeremy Lennon, the union’s president, could not be reached for comment.

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