Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 30
 
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
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As Union Talks Continue, Two Contracts Expected to be Completed by Summer’s End

Dilshanie Perera

With two Borough union contracts close to completion, the municipality is currently in negotiations with representatives from four unions whose contracts are all currently expired. Administrator Bob Bruschi expects that the contracts with the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), Inc., Local 130 and the Blue Collar Workers Unit Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO will be finalized by the end of the summer.

Once those agreements “fall into place,” Mr. Bruschi envisioned that the remaining contracts with the Teamsters Union Local 676 for police dispatchers and the PBA Local 130 Superior Officers’ Association for police sergeants and lieutenants would likely find closure.

Chief Financial Officer Sandra Webb reported that the Borough has 60 employees who belong to unions and 49 full-time non-contractual employees. “The total amount of the budget that goes to [both union and non-union] employees’ salaries is $8,728,978,” she noted, adding that employee health benefits cost $2,311,413 and pensions $1,257,827.

The CWA has 29 members who are Borough employees, working primarily in the public works department, or comprising the sewer operations or parking operations staff. The Teamsters Local 676 are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO Public Safety Communications Officers, and have five Borough members who are police dispatchers.

As for the PBA Local 130, 18 Borough officers belong to that union while the PBA Local 130 Superior Officers’ Association has 8 members from the Police Department.

With most of the union contracts currently on the books having expired in 2008 or the end of 2009, Mr. Bruschi explained that “by law the contracts remain in full force and effect” until the new negotiations are complete.

“In the past, all terms and conditions were retroactive,” he said, adding that in the current contracts “some clauses will be retroactive, and some will not.”

Describing the conversations as “normally very collegial,” Mr. Bruschi said that “everybody understands the reality of where we are.” He was referring to the economic squeeze the Borough, state, and nation at large has been experiencing.

“Salary is a big issue, and any areas where we can cut back on certain expenses,” are what he Borough is looking at closely, Mr. Bruschi remarked, calling the union representatives “very upfront in looking at potential givebacks to the Borough.”

Further details regarding the terms and conditions of the new contracts will be available once the negotiations are finalized.

Three of the union representatives are on the Borough staff and include Patrol Officer Thomas Lagomarsino of the PBA Local 130; Sergeant Robert Currier of the PBA Superior Officers’ Association; and Police Dispatcher John Luck for the Teamsters Local 676.

CWA employee Sandra McGraw, who represents the union in the Borough negotiations, declined to comment, while the three other representatives could not be reached prior to Town Topics press time.

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