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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

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



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