POTSDAM — The decision to reduce the hours of the peace officer Tuesday night by the Town Board resulted in a move by local teamsters to amend the position so it would remain covered by their union.
Board members held an executive session almost immediately following the start of their monthly board meeting to discuss, what they would later vote in favor of, the five-hour reduction of the peace officer position, currently held by Timothy A. Rivers.
The resolution, which passed 4 to 0, with board member Sarah L. Lister absent, reduced the peace officer position from 15 hours to 10 hours a week “unless unexpected or unusual circumstances arise and with the understanding that input from the Town Justices will be sought to fashion a job description.”
Prior to the vote, Mr. Rivers, who acts as the Town Constable and Town Court Officer but also is the chief of the Potsdam Rescue Squad and the occupational health and wellness technician for Alice Hyde Medical Center, Malone, took the opportunity to voice his opposition and concern during the public-hearing period of the meeting, saying that the decision to reduce the hours could potentially be considered a breach in contract with his union, Teamsters Local 687.
Town Supervisor Ann M. Carvill told the Times the following morning that the decision to draft and pass the resolution Tuesday night came following a recommendation from Town Justice Samuel R. Charleson.
“It was simply a recommendation from Justice Charleson. He was just clarifying the need,” Mrs. Carvill said. “He felt that we shouldn’t spend taxpayers’ money unless there was a need.”
Justice Charleson declined to comment on the recommendation.
Mrs. Carvill said that, in talks with Teamsters Local 687 President/PEO Brian K. Hammond, it was determined that if the hours in the position were decreased from 15 hours, it would no longer be a union job.
The concern was dashed Thursday when Memorandum of Understanding between the town and Teamsters Local 687 was drafted, agreeing that the peace officer classification shall be less than 15 hours a week and that the hourly rate will remain as listed with increases effective Jan. 1 of each year. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, vacation, sick and personal leave will be calculated based on total number of hours worked in the prior year. The average calculated hours will be used to determine the amount calculated, the MoU stated.
Union Seward Peggy Brusso said while the MoU hadn’t been signed as of Thursday morning, it was expected to be approved by both Mrs. Carvill and Mr. Hammond and that it will keep the peace officer position covered under the union and anyone holding the position will still have bargaining power and will get the appropriate raises.
Mr. Rivers told the Times Thursday afternoon that he was satisfied with the outcome.
“I know it’s just a little small, little one-man thing, but yeah, I’m satisfied the way it turned out,” Mr. Rivers said. “We will move forward from this point on and take care of the people just like we always have.”