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2016-06-15 / Front Page

Amityville PBA wins grievance against the Village

Arbitrator says Village erred when it reduced officers' night pay

by Carolyn James

A decision handed down Tuesday upholds the Amityville PBA’s position that the Village violated its bargaining agreement with the police when it withheld night differential pay last year. The Village contended that the police were entitled only to an 8-percent differential, instead of the 12-percent of their base pay as outlined in the contract.

In his decision, New York State Labor Arbitrator Robert L. Douglas said there was a “preponderance of the evidence  that the Village violated the agreement and  that the union proved  that the village violated the collective bargaining agreement.”

Douglas called upon the Village to “Make whole  all of the affected Police  Officers and Sergeants in a prompt manner  and to  restore the 12 percent night differential.”

The decision requires that the Village pay back officers a total of $123,511.37, according to figures provided to the Amityville Record by PBA officials.

“This is a landmark decision that reaffirms the Amityville PBA’s position that the Board of Trustees acted frivolously and  without merit by intentionally violating the clear language of the collective bargaining agreement,”  said PBA President Christian Mullin. “It is unfortunate that the majority of the Board, in their  vigilant crusade against the members of the Amityville PBA continue to waste endless  amounts of taxpayer dollars to further their cause.”

However, the Arbitrator added that it would not require the Village to pay for legal costs associated with the lawsuit saying “there was an absence of persuasive evidence that the Village engaged in  arbitrary, capricious or bad faith conduct.”

David Davis of Davis & Ferber in Islandia represented the PBA. Richard Zuckerman of Lamb and Barnosky of Melville represented the Village. Efforts to reach both attorneys for comment were not immediately successful.

Also unavailable for comment today was Amityville Village Mayor James P. Wandell. Messages were left  for the  Mayor on his email, office and cell phones.

The issue began June 5 of last year when, after a review of the police contract, the Wandell administration issued a memorandum outlining a new “payment protocol” reducing the night differential payments from 12 to 8 percent of the officers’ annual salaries. The legislative intent behind the change, according to  the memo, was to ensure  that night  differential payments were calculated only for the time that officers were working between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., and  to “continue the history of ‘pattern bargaining’ with the Suffolk County PBA.”

“This was keeping with the spirit of the police contract, which calls for parity with Suffolk County,”  said Mayor James P. Wandell when the Village issued the new pay protocol.

The Union maintained that no changes were made in in the Suffolk contract relating to night differential, so the Village had no legal right to amend the Village PBA’s contract.

The initial decision to pay Amityville officers 12  percent night differential , was a contractual compromise reached between the Village and Police when Suffolk officers switched to 10-hour shifts, two hours shorter than the 12-hour shifts Amityville officers work.

“The 12 percent figure represented approximately what Suffolk officers were getting for working nights,” said former Amityville Police Officer and PBA president Ernie Thompson.

Suffolk changed its tours in 2004.

 

 

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