.

State Labor Board Rules in Woodbury's Favor

A 2011 complaint against the town by a union is now resolved. Woodbury's first selectman is happy with the outcome but a former Public Works employee is not.

 

More than a year after CSEA, SEIU, Local 2001 filed a complaint with the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, a decision in favor of the town was rendered on September 24, 2012.

"We are happy that this question has been resolved," said First Selectman Gerald "Jerry" Stomski in an e-mail to Patch.

The following timeline is from the state of Connecticut Labor Department's decision in the matter of the town of Woodbury and CSEA, SEIU, Local 2001 [attached to this article as a PDF].

Timeline

  • May 2005: Richard Lamothe hired as Public Works supervising foreman
  • February 2005: Leslie Gamsjager hired as part time clerk with the Parks and Rec Department
  • 2008: Gamsjager's position became full-time.
  • February 2010: The Board of Selectmen submitted its proposed annual budget to the Board of Finance. The Board of Finance modified the proposal and reduced the annual allowance for employees by $80,000.
  • May 26, 2010: The budget was rejected by voters.
  • June 2, 2010: The BOF reduced the allowance for employee wages by $120,000.
  • Shortly thereafter, Stomski contacted Union Staff Rep. Stephen Ferrucci to discuss the proposed budget referendum. Ferrucci asked Stomski to postpone the discussion until after the budget was approved.
  • June 21, 2010: At a town meeting, the requisite majority voted to eliminate the second proposed pay plan reduction.
  • June 29, 2010: A budget with the $80,000 reduction in the employee pay plan was approved.
  • July 8, 2010: Stomski met with Ferrucci and other union representatives to discuss the $80,000 shortfall. Stomski requested union proposals to avoid layoffs.
  • Third week of July: Stomski asked Ferrucci if the union proposed a means to address the shortfall. Ferrucci said the bargaining units could not reach a consensus.
  • July 23 and August 6, 2010: Letters were sent to Lamothe and Gamsjager notifying them that their positions were being eliminated due to the current economic climate, the financial difficulties the town was experiencing and the Board of Finance's reduction of $80,000 from the employee pay plan.
  • Then Public Works Director , and Parks and Rec Director Jenifer Miller assumed the duties of Lamothe and Gamsjager, respectively.
  • February 10, 2011: The union filed a claim with the state board alleging that the town committed practices prohibited by the Municipal Employee Relations Agency Act when it transferred bargaining unit work formerly performed by the supervising foreman [Lamothe] and the rec coordinator [Gamsjager].

________________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in Middlebury and Woodbury's news, events, community bulletins, blogs and businesses? Sign up for the free Woodbury-Middlebury Patch daily newsletter, "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The Union's Claim

The union claimed the town eliminated the positions of two of its members and subcontracted work to the department heads in violation of the State of Connecticut Labor Department's City of New Britain and Local 1186 of Council 4 AFSCME AFL-CIO case.

The union also claimed the town violated the act by unilaterally granting benefits to the employees who were laid off, according to the decision.

Conclusion

Regarding the work performance that remained after the two positions were eliminated, the decision stated that there was no substantial departure from past practice and the union's complaint was dismissed.

The Impact of the Decision

Stomski said the impact will be felt by municipalities, employees and unions statewide.

"It has to do with municipalities all around the state being able to manage and decide on how to reduce the size of their government, more specifically reduce the amount of their employees," he said via e-mail.

Stomski said union employees are protected under their bargaining unit contract against layoffs.

"Usually this, layoffs, can only be accomplished due to lack of work," he said. "Most municipalities suffer from lack of funds for employees, not from lack of work for employees."

When the BOF reduced the pay plan, Stomski said that forced job eliminations, not layoffs.

"A municipality cannot transfer the work from one employee who's been laid off (or in our case job eliminated) to another employee," he said. "But we (the town) were able to successfully demonstrate to the Labor Board that the person whose position was eliminated virtually did the same work as his or her supervisor, hence there was no transfer of work from one to another. The supervisor was already doing the same job and would continue on doing so."

Lamothe had a different take on the decision's impact on the town and feels that taxes are increasing while services are decreasing.

"I am disappointed obviously but unfortunately here, it's the townspeople that have really lost," he said. "I know all the roads. I know where all the issues are and this guy Charlie [Charlie Beardsley, the present Public Works director], he might be a nice guy but he doesn't know the roads like I do and it's not his fault. He's not from Woodbury; he's from Southbury."

Jaimie Cura October 05, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The second PDF wouldn't load so here's the link to it: www.ctdol.state.ct.us/csblr/decisions-pdf/1995/3290.pdf - I also embedded the link into the article.
Sean M October 06, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I heard a rumor that Dunkin Donuts wanted to come to Woodbury just to get Rich Lamothe's coffee business.
Barbara Fairbanks October 06, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I know that my road is now overgrown with brush from the side of the road, vines are hanging down and hit the roof of my car and the sides of the road have pot holes in them like I've not seen in the 30+ years I've lived here. If this was Mr. Lamothe's job it is not being done as well as he did.
Sean M October 07, 2012 at 01:56 PM
In the time you have spent complaining you could have cut down the vines that hit the roof of your car. Why is that the town's responsibility to maintain your property? I spoke to more than one town employee who was grateful that Lamothe is gone. He is a bitter person who has the government job mentality. The letter he put out blaming Jerry for the road collapse was classless. If he saw it as such a problem then why did he wait until after it collapsed to say something? Lamothe is part of the group that just hates Jerry and he chats with them all the time at the Selectman meetings. It is the same group that was behind Woodbury Farce and in bed with the Democrat Town Committee.
Voice of Reason October 14, 2012 at 01:21 AM
@ Barbara Fairbanks. In driving around Woodbury I've not noticed any appreciable negative differences in maintenance, often I've actually seen improvements. Perhaps I've not driven your road? I wouldn't be surprised to find that some areas need attention though. Especially when one considers the October '11 snowstorm, dealing with that put a lot of people (public and private) behind on other outdoor projects. I'd imagine that things are being caught up on? Call Public Works or Stomski and let them know your road needs some attention. As for Lamothe. It appears to me that he really wasn't needed anyway. Stomski, by way of eliminating the position, has trimmed fat and saved taxpayers money. Lamothe could always try a job in the private sector too. Anyway, eliminating one's position is not an easy thing to do to a fellow human being and Stomski was tasked with doing just that, something I'm sure he thought long and hard about. Being number one in any organization can be a thankless job and First Selectman is not immune.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »