HAMDEN — The town’s emergency dispatchers will be laid off June 30 if they cannot make concessions, according to Mayor Craig B. Henrici.
Henrici issued pink slips this week to the 16 dispatchers, who are members of CILU Local 49.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Council met in special session Wednesday night to approve concessions for the police, fire, public works, Town Hall, library and supervisors unions. The unions have agreed to no wage increases and five furlough days for the coming fiscal year in exchange for no layoffs and a two-year extension in their contracts. The concessions total $1.3 million.
According to Henrici, the dispatchers unit was one of six town employee unions that had reached a tentative agreement March 31. The tentative agreements had been meted out by town officials and union leadership. But when members of the dispatchers’ union voted last weekend, they rejected the tentative agreement.
As a result, Henrici issued pink slips to them Monday. But Thursday, union President Sean Duncan Courtney IV said that “in the last 24 hours there has been dialogue,” and the union is working on another arrangement it hopes will be agreeable to the administration.
CILU staff representative Cathy Granoth Thursday contacted Personnel Director Ken Kelley and asked for a meeting. Kelley said he and Granoth will set up an appointment today.
“The ball is in their court,” Henrici said.
Henrici said that a counterproposal the union had offered prior to voting last weekend would have cost the town money because the union included a request for compensatory days in the mix of holidays off. To grant the comp time, the town would have had to have pay overtime to fill slots, Henrici said. The town is seeking cuts of $40,480 from the dispatchers.
Police Chief Thomas J. Wydra, who oversees the dispatchers, said he was happy to hear that the dispatchers were coming back to the table. When Henrici threatened the layoffs Monday, he had directed Wydra to have enough of his sworn personnel “ready and trained” to take over the communications center as of July 1.
Wydra said he hoped he wouldn’t have to find a way to cover the work done by the dispatchers, who he said “do an outstanding job every day.” The dispatchers handle 911 emergency calls for Hamden police and fire. “I hope that they reconsider. They are a very valuable work force and collectively they are very talented,” the chief said.
In attempting to balance the 2009-10 budget, Henrici also asked Board of Education employees for concessions. Superintendent of Schools Frances M. Rabinowitz said she is still meeting with union leaders. Teachers, for example, have not yet received concession information from union leaders.