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Contract talks between Saratoga Springs and DPW union stall

Contract negotiations between the City of Saratoga Springs and the union representing workers in its department of public works stalled on Thursday, June 4, when mediated sessions reached an impasse.

Representatives of both the city and the Civil Service Employees Union blamed each other for the failure to reach an agreement after nine months of negotiations during which the two met 14 times. The union contract expired at the end of 2008.

It was agreed, however, that the city put an offer on the table Thursday that was understood to be the final, take-it-or-leave-it proposal. The union countered, but an agreement was not reached.

According to a statement released by Harris Beach, a law firm contracted by the city for the negotiations, the union rejected a fair offer and abandoned mediation.

According to Mayor Scott Johnson, at the final mediated session the city approached the CSEA with a "do or die" offer of 0 percent raises for 2010, followed by 1.5 and 2.5 percent raises in 2011 and 2012, providing that non-paying health care employees would donate $500 annually toward health care costs.

The union, said Johnson, agreed to forgo raises in 2010, but then wanted 5 percent raises in the following two years.

"We didn't think that was financially viable for the city," said Johnson. "Five percent in this economy is unfathomable."

A CSEA representative declined to speak about specifics of the city's offer, other than to say the union had agreed to a 0 percent raise in 2010, but said the union's objection with the city's offer was based on pay.

"The compensation piece was insulting," said Therese Assalian. "Bottom line, DPW workers will not be scapegoated for fiscal mismanagement by the mayor, and we will not allow the city to continue to play on tired old clichEs about public employees making unfair demands when the opposite is true."

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