Reduced hours coming after Beacon Falls’ unions balk at freeze

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BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectmen will meet next week to institute furlough days for union town employees.

The selectmen will move ahead to reduce work hours after it has been notified that the Town Hall, public works and police unions will not agree to a wage freeze for the 2011-12 year.

Members will have a special meeting Wednesday, following a hearing at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall on proposed changes to three ordinances.

Town officials had been working to reach concessions with the unions since March when talks between the two began.

First Selectman Susan Ann Cable said each union contract is phrased a bit differently, but contract language allows the town to reduce work hours.

A union representative has said the town has no authority to institute furlough days contractually. The unions also had said they were willing to work with the town, but the town had been unclear in what it wanted until recently.

Cable said the unions said they would only take a wage freeze if the town extended their contracts and receive a raise at the end of the extension. She said that’s not agreeing to a wage freeze.

The union raises would calculate out to be eight or nine furlough days, Cable said, but to make this budget work effectively, the selectmen will look at 12 days — or one day per month per employee.

The 2011-12 budget of $5.9 million, which was approved at a May 31 referendum, does not include unions’ pay raises. The budget is an increase of $165,070, or 2.9 percent, over the 2010-11 plan.

Selectman Michael A. Krenesky said the selectmen will discuss how many days and how to implement them. He said the 12 days are not cast in stone.

Cable said the town has been more than fair with the unions, but it’s their decision and the town will move forward with the furlough days.

“I am extremely disappointed in every one of them,” Cable said.

Representatives from the unions couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.