Township facing two contract negotiations

Contracts for public works employees expired two

years ago, while the police contract expired Dec. 31
By:Roger Alvarado
   Contract negotiations between the Township Committee and the respective unions representing Hillsborough’s police officers and Department of Public Works employees remain at a standstill.
   The Police Department’s current three-year contract expired Dec. 31 while the Public Works employees have been without a contract for two years.
   All sides say they will work to resolve their differences early this year.
   "At the moment we’re in active negotiations," Deputy Mayor Steven Sireci said. "Both are complicated matters and take time."
   Hillsborough PBA Local 205 President Kenneth Pryor says he’d like to get the situation resolved in a timely fashion, but notes it’s early in the process and could take some time to hammer out a deal.
   Meanwhile, DPW President Fred Eurick says that despite his frustrations over the fact that the contract dispute has taken as long as it has, a deal could be on the horizon.
   "We are going to be meeting with a fact-finder this Wednesday (Dec. 31)," Mr. Eurick said. "I think we’re coming close to being on terms now."
   However, he says he has been disappointed that the process has taken so long.
   "When you’re two years without a contract it seems like you can’t get anywhere," he said.
   Mayor Tony Gwiazdowski said he feels that an agreement between the township and DPW could be imminent.
   "The DPW contract is two years overdue," he said. "It has lingered and dilly dallied back and forth.
   "We have had to go to arbitration because we’ve differed on what we want to offer and what they want to have," he added. "I expect a deal to be finalized early this year."
   Dr. Sireci says he does not consider either case to be atypical.
   "It’s not unprecedented to take a couple years on these contracts," he said referring to the DPW negotiations. "It’s not entirely unheard of that the two sides start out far apart. I’m hopeful and think progress has been made. It’s hard to say when you will get to a conclusion.
   "We are looking out for taxpayers’ interests and the unions are looking out for their members," he added.
   Representatives from all sides declined to cite the specific sticking points that have hindered or could potentially delay the respective accords from being signed.
   There are 28 Department of Public Works employees in its union.
   The PBA has 52 officers who are members of Local 205. The four lieutenants, captain and chief are not included. The starting salary for an officer just out of the police academy is $36,377, Cpl. Pryor said.