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State Rules With Union And Rejects Outsourcing

State: Waterford Can No Longer Outsource School Landscaping

Tuesday night, during the Board of Selectmen's budget review, the Recreation and Parks Department said it was hiring one more employee than originally expected. The reason was because of a judgment on a union grievance in December, according to department head Brian Flaherty.

On Dec. 22, the state labor board ruled in favor of the union that represents the recreation and park maintainers that Waterford could not outsource the landscaping of its schools, Flaherty said. Instead, another town employee will be hired and the landscaping will be done in-house, Flaherty said.

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Traditionally, the maintained all the school grounds, Flaherty said. But this budget year the town decided to eliminate three positions through attrition and outsource the maintenance of the schools.

In July, the town approved a $60,700 bid by Peter S. Turello LLC to maintain the grounds at and all three elementary schools. In late August, after Turello had been on the job for a month, First Selectman Dan Steward, Superintendent Jerome Belair and Buildings and Grounds Director Jay Miner

But high-ranking representatives of the union that represents the maintainers in the recreation and parks department, not the local employees themselves, found out about the outsourcing and filed a Municipal Prohibited Practices complaint, Steward said. They challenged the outsourcing because the town’s union employees previously did the work, and town employees should continue to do the work, Steward said.

The complaint went to a hearing on Dec. 22, where the town argued it was cheaper and the quality was better with Turello doing the work, Steward said. But the state labor board ruled on the side of the union, he said.

Results

Flaherty will now hire one more maintainer than originally planned. The cost of that maintainer is roughly the cost of the Turello contract, so “it is basically a wash,” Flaherty said.

Still, Steward is demanding the same quality of work from the recreation and parks department that the town was getting from Turello. The work by Turello was “absolutely” better than the work previously done by the recreation and parks department, and if they can’t match that quality, the town will bring the complaint back to the state, Steward said.

“I have no doubt in my mind (the recreation and parks department) can do the job,” Steward said. “They can do the job, and they can do a good job. It is up to them to do it.”

Meanwhile, despite some restructuring of the staff, the recreation and parks department still has one less maintainer, down from eight to seven, Flaherty said. Still, he believes that despite one less man, his crew can still get the work done.

“It is going to be an experiment,” he said. “But I think we can do it.”

Harold Hansen February 01, 2012 at 03:17 PM
RAV, There was a legal reason why there was a suit against Boeing filed by the NLRB. Boeing threatened the union that if it struck, Boeing would move production out of state. See http://www.factcheck.org/tag/boeing/. Keith is right. Check whether we think it right or wrong, Municiple Prohibited Practices set the rules.
Dave February 02, 2012 at 12:51 PM
How can Brian Flaherty say that the cost of the employee is a wash at $60,000 against the Turello contract? It is quite obvious that he is NOT figuring in Medical insurance & benefits that a town employee receives.
fedspy February 03, 2012 at 03:36 PM
i could not have said it better, it is a spending problem not a income problem. compare this to the education dept. of mandated programs without funding, state laws enacted for the NEA, and the taxpayer is screwed. there is not a bigger bureacracy than at the education dept., the only important person is the classroom teacher, not a bunch of counselors who dont teach, and a bloated superintendents office salary wise. tax receipts from the taxpayers should dictate what the budget is, not what the unions want in constant cost of living increases every year that out strips tax revenues. the finance board needs to develop gonads, and say no, and have the taxpayers approve or disapprove the budget for each dept. taxpayers in waterford and other towns need to have a vote, we need a wisconsin governor here and end the tyranny of the public unions of outrageous demands in salary and benefits. let them work in the private sector and find out what is means to work within a sturcture that has limits, or else you are gone. dont forget, dave, ct. is rated the worst state in the union to retire, thanks to the democrats, and some rhino republicans.
bj alter ego February 05, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Once again people commenting on a partcial story not the facts. Yes Rec and Park has done the maintenance of school properties for over 25 years money was in the 2012 budget to have the work done again. Rec/Park had 5 out of 8 employees retire at which point Town decided to outsource. The union protested that Town used funds that had been marked for employees and state found they were right Rec/Park had hired 2 employees to continue all other jobs. Now having to do schools again they will receive another employee and Brian Flaherty was right that employee will be less than the 67,000 out source price. Again people don't realize the salary is between 30,000 and 36,000 a year plus medical. Most TOWN employees do not start over 50,000 a year. This could have been done without Town Unions getting involved if Board of Education had taken out of their budget the cost of Turello contract Did Turello do good job, yes. Why, they had the capability to send 5 employees to a school for 5 to 7 days and concentrate on that school. Rec/Park does not have that luxury they have to do all the grounds in town ballfields, beaches, town buildings, parklets,painting of fields, buildings,garbage around town,courts,shrubs, playgrounds and much more. So let's make sure we get all facts before pointing finger
Paul Petrone February 05, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Bj alter ego? That is hilarious. I would say, as far as the accuracy, medical costs may make up the difference alone, even with an employee at $35,000 (the bid was for $60,700, not $67,000). Then, you have other expenses like retirement and some other fringe benefits. Plus there is a materials cost to actually landscape, with gasoline and all that. The wash is probably being generous. On the other side though, and Brian brought this up, he gets an employee now for the entire year. So, as he said, "it is not an apples to apples comparison."

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