Town Unions Agree To No Pay Raises In Coming Year
By: Mary Stanley
Sandwich’s non-school municipal unions have once again agreed to not accept pay raises next year.
Town Manager George H. Dunham announced to the board of selectmen last night that he had completed contract negotiations with all six of the municipal unions. The three year contracts call for a zero salary increase next year, a three percent increase the second year, and a three percent increase the third year.
"When viewed over a four year period [beginning this year], this means general wages will have increased by 1.5 percent annually which is extremely reasonable in light of the current economy and the town's financial condition," Mr. Dunham read from his prepared statement to the board last night.
Mr. Dunham went on to say that the unions' agreement to a zero increase for the second consecutive year is unprecedented.
"While other towns have talked about having all unions take a zero increase, to the best of my knowledge we are the only community that has accomplished this for one year, much less two. What we have achieved as a collective team yet again is truly unprecedented. It should also be noted and praised that all six unions took the high road in reaching these agreements, ignoring many contract settlements that occurred in town which included increases for fiscal years 2010 after they had all taken zero increases for that year," Mr. Dunham said.
The Town Manager thanked all of the union employees and union leaders. He also thanked his 40 non-union staff members who also agreed to forego salary increases again in 2011.
In light of the sacrifices made last year and again this year by the municipal employees, Mr. Dunham asked the board to allow him an additional $275,000 in his budget, which would be slightly less than one percent above this year's budget, so that he would not have to make any layoffs in the year ahead.
"I am hereby asking the board of selectmen and finance committee to provide me with enough money for fiscal year 2011 so that no general government employee will be laid off for financial reasons," he said.
Mr. Dunham added, "We are hanging on by our fingernails to a ledge and we want to hang on one more year with the people we've got," he told the board.
While the selectmen did not take a formal vote on the request Thursday night, they did extend their appreciation to the six unions, their leaders, and to Mr. Dunham and other administrators who worked so hard to hammer out the contract agreements in just under five weeks.
Selectman F. Randal Hunt commented on the relationship that Mr. Dunham has with his employees and that is one built on trust and respect. "Without the rapport you have with your employees, this just couldn't happen," Mr. Hunt said.
"What these folks think about you is truly amazing and is a demonstration of your strong leadership," said John G. Kennan, Jr., chairman of the board of selectmen.
Mr. Dunham admitted the negotiations were not always easy and there were many union members who initially stated they would not take a zero increase again this year. He said, to their credit, they put the greater good and the best interests of the town and their fellow employees first.
"The consensus we reached would not have been possible without the trust, candor, and openness of the six unions and I want to publicly thank them for recognizing and acknowledging the greater public good in saving fellow employees' jobs over any personal financial gains that would have been realized with a general increase for 2001," Mr. Dunham said.
Selectman Dana P. Barrette noted the example that the municipal unions have set for other unions in town. "This sets an example for union leadership. The town unions took it on the chin twice and this serves as a great example for other unions," Mr. Barrette said.
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