On Jan. 25, on a proposed agreement between Waterford and East Lyme to regionalize emergency dispatch services. East Lyme would end its dispatch services, and Waterford would hire four more dispatchers and cover both towns, according to Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward.
That article elicited a response from the East Lyme dispatchers and the union that represents them, AFSCME Local 1303-436. An AFSCME Local 1303-436 representative to Steward demanding he “negotiate the impacts of said merger.”
“East Lyme took long-term employees and threw them under the bus,” AFSCME Local 1303-436 chief negotiator Wayne Meyers told Patch Friday. “And for Waterford, I just want them to sit down and talk with us. If they don’t want to do it, that’s fine, we'll do it in court.”
East Lyme has three dispatchers. Under the proposed agreement, those dispatchers would be laid off, and then Waterford would hire four new dispatchers.
The dispatchers who would be laid off from East Lyme can apply for the new positions, but would not be guaranteed a position, Steward said. While they have experience, if they can’t pass Waterford’s employment test, they won’t be hired, Steward said.
“I understand their angst,” he said. “But I am not willing to say that just because you were doing this somewhere else means that you are a good employee… You could be taking an employee that doesn’t have any idea what they are doing, and that’s not what we do.”
Meyers, meanwhile, said not only should the jobs be guaranteed to the East Lyme dispatchers, the wages and benefit package should be negotiated with Waterford as well. If they aren't, the union will take Waterford to court, Meyers said.
“We are talking about three employees here for our union, it is not a money thing,” Meyers said. “(The union) will fight this on principle. We want to show that you can’t treat our employees like this.”
Both Steward and Meyers complained about the way each other has communicated. Meyers said the East Lyme dispatchers found out about the agreement from the January Patch article, while Steward said putting legal demand letters on Patch is “inappropriate.”
Meyers originally told Patch that the dispatchers had no idea about the Waterford-East Lyme agreement until they read it on Waterford Patch. But when pressed, he did say the dispatchers were told about the possibility “two or three times over the last year,” although nothing specific.
Steward complained that the union put a legal demand letter on Waterford Patch before he even had a chance to see it. Steward has been insulted in the comments section of Waterford Patch as well for proposing the agreement, with anonymous users calling him “King Dan.”
“If anybody has any questions, they should be coming to (East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica or myself) and asking questions,” Steward said. “They shouldn’t be assuming they know what is going on.”
The benefits of the merger are Waterford would save approximately $60,000 annually on overtime, and would receive an extra $80,000 a year from the state, Steward said. East Lyme would save around $130,000, he said.
The proposal still needs to be voted on by the Waterford Representative Town Meeting. An RTM subcommittee is holding a public hearing on the proposed agreement tonight at 6:30.