Dozens of workers employed by the Village of Rockville Centre gathered outside Village Hall before the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday to demand a higher wage increase.
The village’s unit of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 882, which comprises 140 employees, said they have worked for almost two years without a contract, and “deserve a better wage increase than the administration is offering,” according to handouts distributed at the demonstration.
“The Village has been negotiating in good faith in attempt to resolve these issues while at the same time trying to hold down property taxes,” village spokeswoman Julie Scully wrote to the Herald in an email. “There are still sticking points on whether and what all members will pay for medical insurance and what the salary increases will be for the fiscal years that would be included in a contract.” She added that not all of the unit’s members currently pay for medical insurance.
The unit’s laborers, who work in a variety of village departments — from senior services to sanitation — said their previous contract included 2 percent raises each year after two years of work, but that they were each most recently offered a $250 raise, an increase of about 0.5 percent for many of the workers.
“Most people think we get paid like cops and teachers,” said Daniel McCarthy, president of the unit, adding that their wages are handled differently. McCarthy, who works in information technology, said the workers have trouble supporting their families due to unsatisfactory salaries. “We’re in Rockville Centre; what are we, peasants?” he told the herald. “[The employees] deserve respect.”
Currently, 29 percent of their salaries fall below $50,000, half are under $60,000 and 66 percent don’t meet $70,000, according to the CSEA handout.
“I carry this on me 24/7,” said Pat Croutier, who works in the village’s water department, showing his pager. “I’m at the village’s call all day, every day.”
During the village’s last contract negotiation, senior managers and village administrators were given a 3 percent increase per year, according to the Local 882 workers. Additionally, employees held signs claiming that Village Administrator Kathleen Murray was given a 14 percent raise last year, which amounted to an increase of more than $19,000.
Scully could not confirm or deny those figures at press time on Tuesday. Murray was promoted to village administrator in 2016.
“It seems like administration likes giving themselves raises. Why don’t they think we deserve them?” said Kathy Weber, who works for the electric department. “We hope we can work together to come up with something that’s fair.”
Local 882 filed for an impasse last month. Both sides will meet with a mediator chosen by the Public Employees Relations Board in the coming weeks, according to Scully.
“The Village looks forward to working with the mediator,” she said, “and getting a signed contract.”