Hanover employees move one step closer to forming union

HANOVER – Hanover employees are one step closer to forming a union after action taken by the town board Monday.

The town board unanimously approved a resolution to authorize Supervisor Todd Johnson to execute the stipulation of agreement for the bargaining unit between the town and Teamsters Local 264 for the positions agreed upon by both parties.

Those positions include highway motor equipment operator, wastewater/water treatment operator, sewer treatment plant attendant, clerk to the justice (court clerk), inspection officer (code enforcement officer), laborer (part- and full-time) and deputy highway superintendent.

Johnson said this includes between 16 to 20 employees, but excludes elected officials and seasonal workers, as well as the town’s bookkeeper, assessor, custodian and deputy town clerk.

Johnson received a letter from the Teamsters Local 264 in April informing the town of the intention to form a union. Teamsters Local 264 Secretary Treasurer Darrin Ziemba confirmed a letter was sent and the employees intended to unionize, but the town board has had no comment up to this point.

Carol Depasquale, planning board chair, expressed concerns with a union as a town resident of the sewer and water district.

Town Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro said not jump to conclusions at this point.

“Don’t draw conclusions. This is part of the unit, that’s all,” he said.

After the meeting, Depasquale explained her concern is how the employees exclusively paid through district residents’ water and sewer bills can be separated from those that are paid through town taxes.

“I have a thousand questions,” she said, adding she will have to wait to get answers.

Johnson explained this resolution confirms a bargaining unit, not a union.

“This is just a bargaining unit. The labor board certified which employees can participate in the bargaining unit. There is no contract and there have been no negotiations,” he said.

The Public Employment Relations Board certified the members of the unit on Friday.

He said approving the resolution to define the unit is a very preliminary step, especially for the town, which has never had a union before.

“The next steps are for what we need to do for formation and negotiation. I have no idea what the Teamsters and the employees will want yet, so we are starting from square one. There is a lot more to come. We need to work out a contract, which the town has never done, so I really don’t know how long that could take; it could take a few months, a year or even two years. We don’t know,” he said.

The board will meet again on Aug. 25.