Montgomery PBA fires back
About six weeks ago the Village of Montgomery PBA was surprised to learn that the Village Board intended to lay off 25 part-time officers and replace them with a handful of full-time officers.
Their attorney, Marilyn Berson, asked the Village Board last week to “reconsider and rescind” any decision to lay off the officers.
While Trustee Mike Hembury noted that the board had not yet voted to move forward on the plan, neither did the board deny that they intended to follow through.
At times the meeting degenerated into shouting matches between the mayor and one of the members of the union, as each argued the series of events that led to the current stalemate of contract negotiations.
Last year the board decided to hire four full-time police officers to qualify for an exemption under Town Law, thereby avoiding paying an additional half million dollars to the town for the same amount of town police services-and to lay off about half of their part-time officers. Their other option was to disband the department completely and consolidate with the town police department.
Now, rather than continue with the four full-time officers and 25 part-timers, the board is looking to replace the part-timers with three more full-time officers.
“We should have let half of them go already,” said Mayor L. Stephen Brescia, pointing out that the village board has delayed the layoffs.
The current contract with the PBA is expired and has been under negotiations for two years. Village officials noted that the PBA asked to negotiate with the board two years ago without NYSUPA and they reached an agreement that pleased everyone. Two weeks later, the board was advised that NYSUPA had rejected the contract.
Berson asserted that the mayor had “mischaracterized” the expired contract and the union’s proposals, which they felt were “completely in line” with other police agency agreements in Orange County.
Meanwhile, Mayor L. Stephen Brescia said the village is currently “paying full-time benefits to part-time officers.”
Brescia outlined the various benefits—longevity raises, overtime, shift differentials and holiday pay—and concluded that with all of the benefits, the village police officers were getting paid more than in other departments in the same town.
Berson, on the other hand, alleged that the part-time officers are “only paid when they work” and “receive no other payments or benefits, such as paid days off or health insurance.”
“They are therefore the least expensive personnel the village can employ to perform police services,” said Berson.
Berson said the PBA has lodged four improper practice charges “concerning various things the mayor recently has said or done.”
“The PBA did not want to do this, but the mayor’s actions have left it with no choice,” said Berson. “The PBA would much prefer to have a cooperative relationship with the village, but that has been made impossible for the time being with these layoff threats hanging over the heads of most of the PBA’s members.”
The discussion was closed with no action from the board.
By RACHEL COLEMAN