Hammonton, workers unions reach agreements to save 10 jobs - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Atlantic County News

Hammonton, workers unions reach agreements to save 10 jobs - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Atlantic County News

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Hammonton, workers unions reach agreements to save 10 jobs

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Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 5:28 pm

HAMMONTON - Ten proposed layoffs were reduced to zero after Town Council approved agreements with two unions and made an offer to one of its department heads in a special meeting Monday night.

Four police officers no longer will be laid off thanks to a four-year agreement the town and police union reached that freezes salaries this year and guarantees no layoffs over the contract's length.

The town also approved a two-year contract with the public works union that saves another job by having no salary increases, capping longevity pay, reducing worker compensation pay and requiring certain employee to give money back.

"This is what we requested from the beginning, and this is exactly what the town needed," Mayor Steve DiDonato said Tuesday. "We're very pleased to have our staff all back together and working effective today."

The local government also reached in April another three-year deal with the Hammonton White Collar Association that included no salary increases this year and next year and capped overtime and longevity pay in order to save four other jobs.

The only other proposed layoff was the Parks and Recreation director, a position the town now wants to reduce to 19 hours per week at $12 an hour.

The current supervisor, Lou Rodio, is paid a base salary of $52,396 with another $21,968 in fringe benefits that includes longevity pay, health and life insurance, unemployment and social security matches and pension payments.

The total compensation under the town's plan would be $14,086, according to an estimate from the town clerk's office in response to an Open Public Records Act request The Press of Atlantic City filed Tuesday.

Rodio declined to comment on the offer Tuesday. The town will offer him the position first, and if he refuses to keep it, will begin advertising for applicants.

Talks with the police union were the most contentious, drawing crowds of people to public meetings to show support for the officers who were set to lose their jobs June 21.

The town and Mainland PBA Local 77 finally hashed out the deal during a three-hour meeting Thursday and then approved it in separate meetings Sunday and Monday.

"These were difficult negotiations, to say the least," union consultant Myron Plotkin said in a statement. "The town was attempting to deal with a financial situation while the PBA was attempting to maintain jobs while still providing fair wages."

The contract allows for a $500 salary increase in 2011 and 2.5 percent increases in 2012 and 2013. Officers also will be given compensatory time instead of overtime pay.

There is also a "poison pill" provision that states that if any officer is laid off in the next four years, the remaining officers will receive an additional 3 percent annual raise retroactive to 2010. Any laid-off officers would also receive health insurance for six months afterward.

"While the PBA is not entirely thrilled with the contract, it is one that we can live with under the current conditions in the state," Plotkin said. "I am sure the town is also not completely thrilled with the contract but also can live with it and did what was necessary to ensure adequate police protection for its residents."

The agreement approved with the local Government Workers Union caps longevity pay at $1,500, has workers contributing 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health benefits and requires employees hired before 1999 to return $300 to the town in exchange for a no-layoff guarantee and the same "poison pill" provision in the police union's contract.

For white collar workers, the three-year agreement has the same longevity cap and health benefit contribution as that of the highway department, as well as total overtime cap of $5,000 for six town departments including the court, taxes, construction and planning board.

In that contract, there also is a guarantee of no mandatory or voluntary furloughs that were originally proposed for 10 municipal workers.

Contact Lee Procida:

609-457-8707

LProcida@pressofac.com

© 2014 pressofAtlanticCity.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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