Tisbury selectmen hear DPW complaint
The Tisbury selectmen conducted a union grievance hearing at their regular board meeting Tuesday night regarding how overtime hours are allocated to town employees and how temporary hires are made.
Cara Winslow, staff representative for the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) from New Bedford, appeared on behalf of town employees, along with Rebecca Cass, the local AFSCME union president.
The grievance stemmed from an attempt by Department of Public Works (DPW) Fred LaPiana to fill the position of landfill attendant temporarily while part-time employee George Costas was on unpaid vacation for six weeks. Mr. Costas recommended a friend of his to fill in, who would not be available to cover the first weekend Mr. Costas was gone.
Mr. LaPiana filled one weekend of shifts with union employees on the overtime list. He then found out that he could not hire Mr. Costas's friend because he was working illegally. Mr. LaPiana then hired a temporary worker to fill the remaining time. DPW employees said the temporary employee's lack of skills and knowledge about landfill operations caused them extra work and inconvenience.
Union employees on the overtime list filed a grievance with the union shop steward, who presented it to Mr. Bugbee, who denied it, based on the language of the collective bargaining contract.
The union representatives told the selectmen that it had been past practice to offer overtime to all union employees before a temporary employee is hired. However, Mr. Bugbee disagreed, saying that there was no language in the union contract that dictates that the town must go down a list of qualified overtime employees before hiring a temporary employee. Mr. Bugbee argued it would be costly for the town to pay overtime every time a temporary employee is needed.
After closing the hearing Tuesday night, the selectmen have 15 days to come to a decision. Selectman Denys Wortman, who will represent the board during a bargaining session Thursday for the unionized town employees' contract that expires on June 30, said he will discuss the grievance issues further with union representatives.