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Grievance alleges overtime favoritism

A formal grievance filed by the Town of Malta highway union accuses the highway superintendent of handing out overtime preferentially and putting employees in unsafe situations.

The grievance, which was examined by the Town Board on Monday, July 6, says the department violated a collective bargaining agreement by assigning overtime outside of the agreed-upon basis of seniority and also failing to assign flagmen to at least one overtime call that involved a lane closure.

The union cites an alleged June 7 incident in which Highway Department Superintendent Tom Adriance tapped Working Supervisor Peter Ostrander to repair road damage on East High Street.

According to the highway union, this was the fifth or sixth time in a row Ostrander had been sent out on overtime. In addition, the union contends that two flagmen and another worker should have been sent along to direct traffic and help, as the job required a lane closure on the two-lane road.

As far as the union's concerned, we're just in it to make the place safer to work, said Gary Osterhout, shop steward at the highway department.

Adriance contends that the worker was indeed safe, as he was working behind a department truck with its hazard lights activated. He also said that he has properly utilized a rotational list in assigning overtime work. When a worker cannot be contacted or cannot fill the overtime job, he moves on to the next name until the list cycles back around.

"I am in full compliance with the contract," said Adriance. "There's no justification in the grievance."

The grievance and the department's response was read and discussed by the Town Board in open session. Town Attorney Thomas Peterson explained to the board that it had the right to discuss the matter in executive session or to air the matter publicly. Three board members " Sue Nolen, Tara Thomas and Gerald Winters " said they would like to keep the meeting open, while Peter Klotz said he would prefer to enter executive session. Supervisor Paul Sausville did not express an opinion.

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