Negotiations have still not yielded a new contract for Smyrna’s town workers. The third and final mediation meeting on June 15 failed to produce an agreement between the Town of Smyrna and its municipal employees, who are represented by AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Unless the two parties can come to an agreement, the next step in the process is arbitration.
Negotiations have still not yielded a new contract for Smyrna’s town workers.
The third and final mediation meeting on June 15 failed to produce an agreement between the Town of Smyrna and its municipal employees, who are represented by AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Unless the two parties can come to an agreement, the next step in the process is arbitration.
The unresolved negotiations took center stage at the June 20 meeting of Smyrna Town Council.
In front of a packed council chamber that included about 20 people wearing green AFSCME shirts, three town employees spoke out on the issue.
Smyrna electric department employee Tate Coulbourne told council that the workers have “made tremendous cuts to try to make a deal.”
He said they have offered to forgo raises and contribute to their pensions.
“We’re trying, and we’re meeting strong resistance on the town side,” he said.
Given the uncertainties, employee morale is down, he added.
Mayor Pat Stombaugh said the town is in the same boat, facing low revenue numbers and an uncertain budget.
“Negotiations are not a pleasant thing,” she said. “It’s tough.”
Mark Gede, Smyrna’s water and sewer system foreman, implored the council members who are not part of the appointed negotiating committee to ask the committee members what’s going on.
The contract negotiating committee consists of Councilman Bob Riddagh and former councilmen Bill Raynor and Bob Novotny.
Councilwoman Valerie White said that not everyone on council is aware of the details of the negotiations.
Council creates new apprentice position for water and sewer
After a heated debate, council voted to create and fill a new town job for a water and sewer system apprentice.
This new position will assist water and sewer system foreman Mark Gede, who is responsible for the town’s 16 lift stations and three well houses and has been working seven days a week.
Councilman Tony DeFeo said that there are areas of the foreman job that are unsafe for one person to do.
He said the new position “will begin to give the employee there some support, some backup, and some safety reinforcement.”
Council approved the new position by a 6-1 vote.
The final motion was to instruct the town manager to open the new apprentice position in-house, and then make another hire to fill the resulting vacancy.
Stombaugh, who voted against the motion, said, “Yes on the first part, no on the second,” as she made her vote.
The water and sewer system apprentice will earn a salary of $34,674.
Council to hire two lifeguards for Lake Como
In other action, council changed course on its previous decision to leave Lake Como without lifeguards.
Council voted 5-2 to hire two full-time lifeguards at Lake Como for the remainder of the summer at $10 per hour. Mayor Stombaugh and Councilman Riddagh voted against it.
Earlier in the meeting, John and Becky Webb of Lake Drive urged council to address a variety of problems at Lake Como, including kids swimming across the lake and trespassing on property.
“You can’t open a recreational facility, not staff it, and expect it to run itself,” said Becky Webb.
“It’s just a matter of time before someone drowns, from what I’ve seen,” said John Webb. “A bunch of rowdy teenagers have taken control of the beach.”