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Union bid has Marilla scrambling

Six employees of the Town of Marilla who declared a union shop have town officials scrambling to recalibrate the town's proposed 2010 budget.

During a work session Tuesday, Supervisor George J. Gertz said he was "blindsided" by highway employees who announced only Monday that they had formed a bargaining unit under the Teamsters banner.

The group is led by highway employee Jim Beats, who had said previously the group was concerned about health insurance, officials said. None of the employees attended the Tuesday meeting.

"Now everything is on the table," Gertz said of the tentative 2010 budget. "We start from scratch regarding their benefits and salaries."

Gertz said Teamsters Local 264 will represent three sanitation, one utility and two highway employees. However, Highway Superintendent Ronald W. Unverdorben, an elected official, will not be represented.

The supervisor said that he talked with the employees a month ago about a proposed change in their health care insurance about co-payments for the use of emergency rooms and that there did not seem to be a problem.

Now it's a problem, he added.

"We would have realized a $14,000 savings to the town if they would accept a change in their co-pays for emergency room service, which the employees pay," Gertz said. "The town pays for the insurance."

Gertz said the highway spending plan will have to be reconfigured after both sides agree on a contract.

"It's a mystery to the Town Board why this [issue] triggered a union shop," he said. "He called it "a knee-jerk reaction to what he called a proposal only."

In other matters, the board reviewed a $250,750 contract for the Marilla Fire Department for 2010. The tax rate would be $1.77 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of 3 percent, or $7,450.

The budget includes firefighters' pensions. Currently, the department has 40 active members. Projects for 2010 include painting the garage doors and placing trim on the 15-year old fire station.

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