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Apr 7, 2010 11:11 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town negotiations with PBA advance

Apr 7, 2010 11:11 AM

The Southampton Town Police Department may not be getting the 12-hour shifts some members had wanted—and which union officials said would save the town millions of dollars—but they might be getting steady shifts.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said this week that the members of the Police Department/Labor Relations Advisory Committee agreed last week to explore the idea of instituting steady shifts, which could affect how the police union and the town negotiate future contracts. With steady shifts, officers sign up for a time they would like to work each day—morning, afternoon or overnight—and they are assigned to those hours on a regular basis.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that the proposal will be “a big talking point” in the ongoing negotiations with the Southampton Town Police Department Patrolman’s Benevolent Association. The police have been working without a contract since December 2008.

Currently, officers might work a shift from midnight to 8 a.m. one week, then an afternoon shift the next week, and then perhaps a daytime shift the following week—an arrangement that makes officers’ lives hectic and unpredictable, Ms. Throne-Holst said.

The steady shift plan is a “good middle-of-the-road” option in accommodating the police officers and their need for steady tours, but also addresses the concern that 12-hour tours are too long, Mr. Throne-Holst said. The PBA supported officers working 12-hour shifts, claiming that it would save money.

“It is my hope that this is a very workable and viable compromise for everyone,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, adding that she considers the new plan a “real breakthrough” in negotiations.

Police Chief James Overton could not be reached for comment before deadline.

PBA President Patrick Aubé, who is a member of the Police Department/Labor Relations Advisory Committee, said that he supported the idea of steady shifts. “I’m in favor of anything that gets the members consistency and normalcy,” he said.

The Police Department/Labor Relations Committee—which the supervisor established in January and which is composed of Ms. Throne-Holst, Chief Overton, representatives from the town police department and the PBA, as well as several citizens—was scheduled to meet and discuss the matter again on Wednesday.

The supervisor said that she is having Town Comptroller Tamara Wright look into the financial impacts of implementing a steady schedule. She said that the town cannot spend any more money on the police department than it already does—around $22 million.

The town and the PBA are currently in the midst of binding arbitration, which began on March 12, according to PBA attorney Seth Greenberg. Ms. Throne-Holst said, however, that she is optimistic that the town and the union will reach an agreement before the next meeting, which is set to take place on April 22.

Mr. Greenberg declined to comment on any specifics of the arbitration, but said that it has been going well and that he is looking forward to the upcoming session. “It’s always the goal, if the parties can work out their differences and have a voluntary settlement,” he said. “The PBA has been without a contract for more than 15 months, and at this point, there has been no deal. We’ve been directed to continue the proceedings.”

The Suffolk County Police Department, Southampton Village Police Department and Westhampton Village Police Department have steady shifts. Ms. Throne-Holst said that the town may be modeling their shift schedule after Suffolk County’s and may end up having one 10-hour tour, two eight-hour tours and perhaps one 12-hour tour to make the timetable work. She explained that one officer would sign up to consistently have 10-hour tours from, for example, noon to 10 p.m., and another officer would sign up to have 8-hour tours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the summertime, when the police beat is significantly busier, those officers may have to do an occasional 12-hour tour, though that detail is tentative, she said.

Southampton Village Police Chief William Wilson said that he has found success with steady tours, which were implemented in his department in 2003. Patrol officers in his department work the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift and the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, or work only the midnight shift, which for his department runs 10 hours from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

He said that steady tour schedule has reduced the amount of sick time officers use. “Rotating shifts grind on you,” he said, noting that he worked them as an officer for 18 years. “When you’re in your mid-30s and early 40s, that rotation starts to grind on your body and mind.”

Westhampton Beach Village Chief Raymond Dean declined to state whether or not he is in favor of steady shifts, which have been the schedule in his departments since 2008. “It presently is being evaluated,” he said. “It was given to them in 2008 in an agreement between the village and the PBA on an experimental basis.”

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12 hour tours is a bad idea and its good to see the Town move off that concept. They will not save any significant money, in fact, overtime costs may indeed increase dispite of the union's claims. There are big time safety issues in 12 hour tours, not only for the public but for the police officers themselves.
Steady tours is a much better concept as long as enough officers sign up for the overnights - there is night shift differential as an incentice.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Apr 7, 10 12:51 PM
Let me get this straight. In the first paragraph, the reporter is stating the PBA claims the 12 hours will save the town millions and the town isn't trying to do an experiment with it? My friend tells me the police department is looking to hire more police officers to replace the ones that recently retired. I wonder if the PBA is looking for the town to replace officers or can the 12 hour tours work without hiring anymore officers?
By rocky (79), shampton on Apr 7, 10 8:08 PM
Currently the STPD make work something like 234 tours a year (Not sure of the exact number but this is close to it); by going to 12 hour tours the STPD would make 156 appearances a year, or 78 less work days -( the total annual hours remain at 1,872 hours regardless of the length of the tour).
How does this save money? Its possible that by having more police at certain hours of the day, mainly the rush hours when there are a lot of calls due to auto accidents and so forth, you might save some ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Apr 8, 10 12:10 PM
"tours" ? they make it sound like its combat. and what exactly are the "safety issues" from these long tours?

like, what? back pain from sitting in a car all day?

By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Apr 8, 10 2:08 PM
Do you want an officer involved in a high speed chase or simply rushing to the scene of an accident in the 12th hour of a tour? There are limitations on truck drivers, bus operators, pilots, and virtually every transportation occupation.
Studies of residents and interns who work long shifts in hospitals have concurred they have more auto accidents on their way home after these shifts. You don't want tired people behind the wheel of a vehicle.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Apr 8, 10 3:13 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By rocky (79), shampton on Apr 8, 10 8:55 PM
Sorry to inform you, but all the doctors and nurses at Southampton hospital work 12 hour shifts, they seem to be doing a fine job with no problems, go back to bed.
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Apr 12, 10 10:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Apr 8, 10 9:42 PM
I agree with North of Highway. 12 hour shifts are a ploy to earn more overtime. As far as the "steady shift" concept is concerned, one has to ask why the odd system of alternating shifts was enacted in the first place. Was it, perhaps, instituted to prevent cops from taking on other jobs that would prevent their response in an emergency?

This is a simple labor negotiation. Aube wants more for less. The arbitrator will side largely with the PBA on wage demands. The Town should simply ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Apr 8, 10 9:42 PM

The facts
a few weeks back the press was sayin the the pba wanted 12 hr tours which is true but at 182 work days not the 156 highway was talking about.
lets do the math 182 12hr work days = 2184 hrs a year
232 8hr work day = 1856 hrs a year
that 328 more hrs work in a year then before.
they maybe showing up less but are working more hrs.

By tookatz (83), westhampton beach on Apr 9, 10 9:08 AM
Mr. Aube could never sell a package to his members where there annual hours increase unless there was a proportionate pay raise. The annual hours will remain the same dispite what the Press may have reported.
Your calculation has the work year increasing 17% - unless their wages went up at the same rate I doubt any officer would vote for ratification.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Apr 9, 10 10:37 AM
Of more interest than 8 or 12 hour shifts should be the way pensions are calculated. Currently they are based on an officer’s last 3 years gross salary. It is one of the worst kept secrets in the Hamptons that officers work outrageous amounts of fraudulent overtime to artificially inflate their pensions. This racketeering has been going on for years and is costing the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and should be brought to an end. Mr. Malone, Mr. Nuzzi: You are the supposed to be the fiscal ...more
By bird (829), Southampton on Apr 9, 10 10:27 AM
the three year average rule was a change done by the legislature years ago (it used to be five years at one time) and not locally and is pretty much out the Board's control. But of course there are other issues that the Board does control. The eventual outcome should be interesting as I recall seeing a life like size cut out figure of ATH at the PBA's headquarters in Speonk during the election and their endorsement of Ms. Fleming. If they go to arbitration the wage increase may be relatively modest ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Apr 9, 10 11:33 AM
Thanks for the clarifications but a contract negotiation is a negotiation and everything should be on the table including the elimination of the pension racketering.
By bird (829), Southampton on Apr 12, 10 10:28 AM
Officers will typically try to increase overtime during these years, such as taking on special detail assignments or filling in when staffing is low, not racketeering by any means,you can not put a price on the services provided, be proud of the men and women who serve and protect, stop the ridicule.
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Apr 12, 10 10:31 PM
SCPD has been working 10 hour tours for years. 4 days on 2 days off , 4 days an 3 days off. It seems to work for them.
By BigL11946 (29), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 10 6:45 PM
I think you are confused, SCPD officers who work midnights work 10 hour shifts, 10 pm to 8 am, 4 days on and then 4 days off, other officers work day shifts, 7 to 3 one week and afternoons the next, 3 to 11, 5 days on with 2 days off, then 5 days on with 3 days off, so on and so forth.
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Apr 12, 10 10:09 PM
12 hour shifts typically benefit everybody, it increases staffing levels at any given time, thus resulting in less overtime costs. Officers who work 12 hour shifts work the same amount of hours per year, however with less days to appear. Many currently work this schedule, such as the NYS Troopers, Nassau PD, and most village agencies in Nassau County, furthermore most hospitals due 12 hour shifts, including Southampton Hospital. The schedules of most east end police agencies is inadequet and physically ...more
By BlueStreak (34), East End on Apr 12, 10 10:23 PM
There also have been jurisdictions that have gone back to 10 hr and 8 hr shifts - as for hospital work hours the trend has been to reduce hours, not increase them. The argument is often made that nurses routinely work 12 hour shifts - and this is true. Why do they work 12 shifts? Because there is a nursing shortage nationally and many hospital systems, like the one I work for, offer the 12 hour shift as a way to attract nurses to our facilities so they have time to work other jobs and we can compete ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Apr 13, 10 10:22 AM
Are there any studies available about policing costs under the current alternating shift 8 hr. programs v. 12 hr. or steady shift? Surely some jurisdictions have done the math.

It is inconceivable that the PBA would favor any patrol alteration that didn't enable its members to make more money. Either more overtime or reliable free time to take other jobs must be the goal of the PBA, in addition to higher base salaries.

The safest thing that the Council could do is to refuse all ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Apr 13, 10 1:32 AM
Agreed. It's all simple really. 12 hour shifts mean either more money, less work, or both. If it wasn't any of these things, the PBA wouldn't want it. And if it means more money, it has got to come from somewhere. That means you, taxpayer.
By BobbyH (44), Southampton/NYC on Apr 13, 10 10:23 PM
Town Board member Jim Malone is on this police labor relations committee, but according to the Supervisor, he has missed five out of its six meetings. How come? There was this big County job of his, Deputy Clerk or something, with such heavy responsibilities, that he talked a lot about when he was campaigning for Town Board. Oh, by the way, he also said he'd leave that job if he were elected, but has he quit? No. Could be that's why Jim Malone has had to miss so many meetings.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Apr 17, 10 11:44 AM