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Blue-Collar Union Deal Gets Narrow OK From Bedford Town Board

The Bedford Town Board voted 3-2 in favor of a new blue-collar union contract. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Turnout at the Bedford Town Board's meeting was high. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. -- The Bedford Town Board voted 3-2 in favor of a new contract with the town’s blue-collar employees' union at its Tuesday, Sept. 2 meeting.

The contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012 and runs to Dec. 31, 2017. Workers covered, who will not receive any salary increases for 2012 and 2013, will get a 2.5-percent wage hike for this year – retroactive to Jan. 1 – and another 2.5-percent raise in 2015 plus 2.35-percent increases in 2016 and 2017. Workers also will receive one-time $1,150 payments.

A key provision is the introduction of employee health insurance contributions, which was discussed at length during the board meeting. Beginning this year, current workers will have contribution rates based on a percentage of their salary. For 2014 the amount is 0.75 percent, which increases to 1.5 percent for 2015 and then to 2 percent for 2016 and 2017.

New employees will contribute based on a percentage of their salary, with a 10-percent rate for anyone making up to $59,000 in base salary and 15 percent for workers who make at least $60,000. New employees will contribute 10 percent of their plan's premium if they receive retiree health care.

Supervisor Chris Burdick praised the deal, saying it puts the town "on the right track.” Addressing the lack of a contract since the end of 2011, Burdick said there were years of on-and-off negotiations and the involvement of the board since the start of this year.

Burdick voted in favor, as did Deputy Supervisor David Gabrielson and Councilwoman Mary Beth Kass. Councilmen Francis Corcoran and Peter Chryssos, who both expressed concerns about the healthcare contribution structure, voted against it.

Ronald Longo , the town’s labor counsel, detailed the history leading up to the deal. The union received no salary increases in the two previous deals that covered 2009-13, he said. He also said Greenburgh, Scarsdale and Ossining are examples of precedent for the salary-based contribution for health care.

Michael Rosafort, a town employee and assistant union shop steward, said in an interview following the vote it was a “fair deal for both sides.”

The deal’s average cost per household, which factors in the healthcare contributions, will be $5.67 for 2015, $0.89 for 2016 and $0.91 for 2016. The net cost to the town will be more than $50,000 for 2015, more than $7,900 for 2016 and more than $8,100 for 2017.

The board approved the contract with a packed crowd in attendance. Several residents voiced support for the deal, arguing the cost is not burdensome.

“I don't think they're getting any king's ransom here,” said Bruce Yablon, a Katonah resident who is running for a Town Board seat. Yablon, who is also an ambulance corps volunteer, praised the employees’ work during tough weather, such as storms.

“For one day just skip the breakfast sandwich and eat breakfast at home,” said Daniel Feintuck, a Bedford Corners resident.

Some residents voiced concern about the healthcare contribution structure.

Scott Johnson, Bedford Hills, argued the contribution level was insufficient and below average. Some speakers suggested the possibility of switching insurance companies for affordability.

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