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Village Responds To Grievance From Employees Union

Mineola: ‘We will abide by the contract’

The Mineola Village Board responded to a grievance made by the Mineola union reps from the United Public Service Employees Union (UPSEU). The union held that village employees wanted vacation time awarded in a calendar year (Jan. 1) rather than on each employee’s anniversary work date.

Mineola is currently in contract talks with village employees. The previous contract stipulations are still in effect, aligning with the Triborough Amendment in the Taylor Law. The law prohibits a public employer from changing any part of an expired labor agreement until a new one is reached.

According to village officials, the contract currently states that employees are supposed to attain vacation time awarded on their anniversary date, not Jan. 1. Therefore, officials said, the board is approving to abide by the details of the union contract.

Village Attorney John Spellman stated the union felt Mineola was in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, by “unilaterally changing vacation accrual, and the union demands that the Village of Mineola cease and desist this action and further demands that all affected members be made whole for all benefits lost as a result of this violation.”

The contract, according to Spellman, indicates the village cannot award vacation time based on an apparent “accounting practice error” that occurred, giving employees their vacation authorization on Jan. 1.

Mineola performed an audit and found the discrepancy and notified the UPSEU, a Ronkonkoma-based organization. The union did not return calls for comment.

The UPSEU could bring the issue to New York State’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to attempt to force the village’s hand. Mineola officials have not received notice if the union will pursue the PERB option.

“We cannot award vacation before it is earned,” Spellman stated. “As a result, we are going to correct the situation and follow the terms of the contract, which provide that vacation is awarded on anniversary dates.”

The village’s decision rested on following what was agreed upon when the current union contract was ratified. Village officials told the union that any employee who feels wronged, should notify Mineola.

“For example, if a person booked a cruise, counting on that much accumulated time, we could move some sick time over temporarily until the vacation time is earned,” said Spellman.

The union in turn, filed the grievance and Mineola officials needed to decide if the charge had any merit. Village counsel recommended that they follow what’s been set in the agreement between the employees and Mineola.

“By awarding vacation time on an anniversary date, we would be abiding by the contract that is in agreement with the union,” Mineola Mayor Strauss stated.

Trustee Larry Werther revealed that to his knowledge, there are a number of factors that come into play. According to Werther, this error occurred before any current bookkeeping employees were working for Mineola. Furthermore, Werther said, “if a village entity gives vacation time before they’re entitled to it, it is a gift of taxpayer money that is not permitted.

“The unfortunate part is, if we find out there is something going on that is costing taxpayer money, if we don’t work to correct, then the board becomes personally liable for those monies,” Werther continued. “So by enforcing the rules of the contract, we’re doing what’s fair. A reasonable effort has and is being made to take care of any employees…if they were prejudiced in any way.”

News

As the night sky fell on Memorial Park last Thursday, Mineola residents and officials paused to remember the almost 3,000 lives that were lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

 

Mayor Scott Strauss, a former NYPD EMS worker and 9/11 first responder, was one of the many who rushed into Manhattan after the attacks, searching the rubble for survivors. He was part of the rescue effort that saved the lives of Port Authority Police officers Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin.

Swaths of nearby and local residents flocked to the sixth annual Mineola Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 14. With vendors lined up and down the streets featuring local businesses and restaurants, live performances and various entertainment for kids, the Mineola Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event didn’t disappoint Mary Cheung of Great Neck.

 

“These fairs are always fun,” she said. “It’s not too hot, not too cold. The music is the best part.”


Sports

Though it had already hosted the series of lacrosse games during the regular season this past spring, Chaminade High School’s new Gold Star Stadium was officially christened on Saturday, Sept. 6, named in honor of the 56 alumni who had perished during combat.

 

“Tradition holds that when one dies in the service a gold star is given to the family,” said Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary. “Our 56 Gold Star Alumni are honored for their selflessness, courage, and integrity.”

Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

International Night - September 18

Bereavement Support Group - September 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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