Committee to meet with union agents

JOHNSTOWN – Members of the Town Board on Monday set up a committee to speak with union representatives for the town Highway Department.

Town Board members Daryl Baldwin and James Westover were selected for a committee to speak with union representatives during bargaining sessions to discuss terms for a contract.

During April’s board meeting, town attorney Cathi Radner said she received a letter from Philip Sedlock, a representative of the United Public Service Employees Union. The letter declared the union was going to be representing the town’s highway department, but Radner said documentation was missing showing the union was the department’s choice.

At the time, a member of the department said those documents would be provided to the board, and noted the 10 employees voted unanimously to join a union.

On Monday, Radner said she received a more detailed letter from Sedlock and suggested the board discuss it in an executive session.

Town Board member Walter Lane also sought to be on the committee, but Radner advised against it. She said another board member would create a quorum and make any committee meeting a public meeting.

Baldwin suggested it should be Westover and himself or Lane and Town Board member Beth Schloicka on the committee.

“I think I almost have to, because Walt and I, we have very opposite ways of thinking and that would be a little balanced,” Westover said.

Westover said the committee also would work with Baldwin and himself.

No dates for bargaining sessions were announced Monday.

Earlier this year, the Town Board changed an overtime policy, which affected members of the Highway Department.

Members of the department expressed concerns about the policy, but did not say it was a reason for unionization.

During February’s Town Board meeting, Supervisor Nancy MacVean said a state auditor expressed concerns about the use of overtime in the town Highway Department. The audit discovered members of the department would use sick time or vacation time in the same weeks they would receive overtime pay at a rate of time and a half.

The Town Board approved the updated overtime policy at February’s meeting. Under the updated policy, if an employee were to use eight hours of personal time in a 40-hour work week but had to work extra time, the employee would not receive time-and-a-half pay unless he or she made up the personal time. Instead, the employee would be paid at the normal rate for the additional hours.