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Anticipate Kearny labor strife in new year

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

One Kearny labor union has ended 2012 without a new contract and another is going into the New Year without the pay hike it was counting on.

The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association’s Local 21, which bargains for the rank-and-file cops, and Police Superior Officers Association (PSOA) met several times with the town on contract negotiations, as the clock continued to wind down to the Dec. 31 contract expiration.

But those sessions have produced no agreement, acknowledged Mayor Alberto Santos and Officer Glenn Reed, president of Local 21. Neither would discuss the contents of the talks. Santos said the next joint bargaining meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10.

“We are making progress on the cost aspect of the contract, in terms of compliance with the state mandated 2% ceiling on wage increases,” Santos said.

The last contract negotiated between the PBA and PSOA gave the cops yearly increases of 3.25% for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Meanwhile, it looks like members of Civil Service Local 11, which represents 85 non-uniformed employees, won’t be seeing any salary increases for 2013.

Santos said the town extended the union’s last contract “but left open the matter of salary increases to negotiation.” And now, it turns out, “we can’t afford any increase (for 2013). … There are serious financial issues to be addressed.”

Mary Ann Ryan, president of CS 11, says simply, the matter “is in the hands of the lawyers,” declining to elaborate.

Ryan said that the union’s last contract provided for across-the-board pay raises of 1.5% a year for 2011 and 2012 “and we were supposed to get increases of 3.25% in 2013 and 2014.”

“The town’s labor attorney has notified our attorney they’re not paying us (the raise) for 2013,” Ryan said.

Efforts to get further clarification of the contract dispute from the town were unavailing. Both Santos and Finance Officer Shuaib Firozvi referred The Observer to Town Administrator Michael Martello, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

In 2011, the town imposed an economic reduction in force that resulted in four CS 11 members – including Ryan — losing their jobs. One was in public works, one worked in the construction office, one was a senior librarian and Ryan worked in the Fire Department.

The union has appealed those layoffs on various grounds and will get a hearing Jan. 24-25 before the state Office of Administrative Law court.

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