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CSEA upset Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters won’t sign contract

First, union workers issued a vote of no confidence in the Hamburg town supervisor. Now, Supervisor Steven Walters is putting off signing a newly negotiated contract with the blue-collar workers.

The Town Board gave Walters the authority to sign the tentative agreement on April 11. Members of the rank and file of Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000 AFSCME ratified the contract May 17. The union covers workers in the Buildings and Grounds and Highway departments.

But the supervisor has not signed it.

“You’ve gone over a month without signing it,” Councilman Thomas Best Jr. told Walters at the last Town Board meeting. “The town attorney advises you it was legitimate and legal to sign it, you still haven’t signed it.”

Walters wanted to know why the Town Board voted on the contract for a second time May 23. He voted no in April, and again last week, he said he wrote the town attorney a memo with his concerns, though he wouldn’t publicly reveal them.

Robert Mueller, CSEA labor relations specialist who negotiated for the union, said the board ratified the agreement and the union approved it, two key items under the Taylor Law for collective bargaining.

“Is the town going to execute the terms?” he asked.

“If I am legally obligated to sign the agreement, I will sign the agreement,” Walters told him.

Walters declined to discuss his concerns publicly, and told Mueller he would talk to him after the Town Board meeting.

Town Attorney Walter Rooth III said he believes Walters must sign the contract, because the board approved the agreement.

Relations between the union and the supervisor have been testy after the town tried to institute changes in health insurance that would have cost some employees $900 to $1,200 more this year. The increases were not due to a change in contracts, and the town backed down after unions objected. The town’s five unions then announced in February they had taken votes of no confidence in Walters.

The contract with the blue-collar unit covers the period from Jan. 1, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2020. It calls for raises of 2 percent July 1, and another 2 percent in each of the following four years, Mueller said.

It also includes concessions for new employees, including in the design of health care, and doubling the time to reach the top pay from five years to 10 years, he said.