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May 6, 2009 1:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

PBA and town at impasse over contract negotiations

May 6, 2009 1:40 PM

Contract negotiations between the Town of Southampton and the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association have stalled and both parties registered an impasse with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, last month.

While both sides are not revealing specifics about the failed negotiations due to potential arbitration, the stalemate centers around a restructuring of the department’s schedule that would have officers working less days, but longer hours while on duty, according to PBA President Patrick Aube. That modification of the schedule, Mr. Aube claims, would significantly cut overtime costs, saving taxpayers close to $2 million per year, and would put more officers on the street at one time.

“We’re providing increased service to the town without taxpayers having to pay for it,” Mr. Aube said.

Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said management has issues with the proposed schedule change and did not agree with the union on the savings to the taxpayers.

“Despite our best efforts to work out the math, we could not find the savings achievable,” Ms. Kabot said.

Ms. Kabot also argued that officers working 12-hour shifts may not be as effective on the job.

“You know how you feel driving for hours on end. You are not on your best game at hour 10, are you?” she said.

According to the supervisor, management offered the PBA a one-year contract with a straight 2-percent wage increase. “We tried in earnest to just do a one-year agreement to see how the economy turns around,” she said.

Southampton Town Police Chief James Overton declined to comment on the impasse, arguing that the negotiations should be kept confidential until the matter is resolved. Efforts to reach Vince Toomey, labor counsel for the town, were unsuccessful.

But Mr. Aube said the proposed restructuring provides normal sleep patterns so the individual officers on duty are adequately rested. “Nurses, doctors and others who serve the public often work 12-hour shifts,” Mr. Aube said.

Union and management have 120 days to reach a settlement once the contract between the two parties expires. The contract between the town and the PBA expired on December 31, 2008.

The next step, according to PBA counsel Seth Greenberg, is mediation.

Mr. Greenberg said PERB has already selected a mediator, Karen Kenney, out of the Brooklyn office. Ms. Kenney is in the process of setting up a mediation schedule with both sides, Mr. Greenberg said.

If mediation fails, then the matter goes to arbitration. Under that process, a three-judge panel—with each side selecting a judge and PERB selecting the third—will settle the dispute.

“We are always open to working 
out a deal,” Mr. Greenberg said. “An agreement between two parties is always better than one imposed by a third party.”

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yes by all means accept the pba offer, less days of work for more pay, that makes the most sense. then the poker game in the town police hq far from supervision can go on and on and on without interruption. make sure the pay cable bill is paid for at the hq as well in case any of those long days becomes boring. and hiring more police officers with 20 years in and then 40 years full pension makes alot of sense too. layer on those endless long expensive pension obligations to the town.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on May 6, 09 11:36 PM
As Linda Kabot says, "You are not on your best game at hour 10, are you?”. At least they will get 10 hours out of them until they aren't their best. Linda Kabot is not on her best game at hour 1. If it would benefit her and give her a raise or make it so she had to do less work, she would be in favor of it. These police officers are the ones protecting her and she wont give them their contract! Come on!
By courtesy (43), Southampton on May 7, 09 12:10 AM
david, can you post without complainng about a parking ticket you may have gotten?
By Terry (380), Southampton on May 7, 09 7:18 PM
Seth Greenberg's father Harry is a veteran of police labor relations, representing Nassau PBA for many years. He is a whiz at police tour charts; simply working a 12 hour shift rather than fewer hours on a shift will not produce any savings, in fact this will lead to fewer appearances and more hiring will be needed to pick up the slack as police work is 24/7 and lost tours have to be filled. There's a cost to it, no savings at all.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on May 13, 09 11:47 AM