Peekskill DPW employees rally outside City Hall to demand safer working conditions, new contract
Peekskill Department of Public Works employees rallied outside of City Hall, demanding safer working conditions and a new contract.
They say the city and its union hasn't agreed on one for over four years. This means no raises when other agencies, like police, have recently received contracts.
They also say the building they work out of has a rat infestation, flooding, and asbestos. The city says none of that is unsafe, but will be repaired.
City Manager Andy Stewart says the two sides are bringing in a mediator Tuesday.
He says the expired contract is still in place, offering protections and benefits. Stewart says a new contract will "undoubtedly" include retroactive increases paid as "very substantial lump sums" plus increases going forward.
Stewart also says they are getting contractor estimates on a modest roof repair job to stop the leaks. He says there is no safety hazard, though it is regrettable and needs to be fixed.
Stewart says most old roofs have asbestos in them, and any roof repair will need to either encapsulate or abate the material.
Stewart says rats have not been found, although the city has put out traps and also has a pest management contract in place with monthly visits.
Stewart also sent News 12 the Teamsters Blue Collar Contract:
Flyers have been posted around town calling up the City to treat Teamsters blue collar staff fairly in contract negotiations. Union members are advocating for the settlement of this contract, exercising their right to free speech. The NYS Taylor law prohibits the public discussion of specific contractual terms outside of the contract negotiation process between the parties. The city and union leadership, at least, have respected this principle. There are several general points I would like to mention that may help the public appreciate the situation.
1. The expired contract remains in full force, offering all its protections of workers and benefits, including the very low contributions to health insurance costs, until such time a new contract is settled.
2. Throughout the impasse over the contract, the city and union have continued our routine and productive partnership managing personnel and contractual issues as they arise. The fact that a new contract has not been settled does not mean the relationship is broken.
3. The city has been negotiating in good faith with the Teamsters. We, too, feel the urgency of settling the contract, for reasons of morale, budget predictability and the resolution of areas of mutual concern to management and labor.
4. After a series of meetings, on a delayed schedule due to the pandemic, the city and union leadership arrived at a settlement proposal - this proposal was roundly rejected by vote of the membership, resulting in a declaration of an "impasse" and the introduction of a professional mediator into the mix.
5. The parties are convening on Tuesday (tomorrow) with the mediator to continue discussions.
6. The eventual settlement of this contract must be approved by the city council and by vote of the union membership, and will undoubtedly include retroactive salary increases for members paid as very substantial lump sums to each member, as well as salary increases going forward.
Finally, we are all eager to see the matter resolved and hope the next settlement proposal the Teamsters negotiate with the City meets with the support of their membership. In the meantime, the city and union will continue to communicate about any issues that are brought to our attention, abiding by the terms of the existing contract and the rules of civil service.
Lastly, I want to again thank our city staff, especially the members of our blue collar contract, for their important work on behalf of city residents.