Even though they’ve been back to work for two weeks, it was made official Tuesday night: Galloway Township employees are back to work five days a week.
The council also presented a proposed budget of $23.068 million at the meeting, a budget helped along by the restoration of Mondays to the workweek.
The employees’ return to work was made official in a vote by the council following a closed session Tuesday night, even though an agreement had been reached just under two weeks ago that sent them back to work immediately.
A ruling in favor of Local 210 found that the township owed back pay to employees that had been furloughed on Mondays since last year. Both sides recognized, however, that paying back the lost funds would put the township in deeper debt than it had been, and massive layoffs would be needed, so an agreement was reached at that time, with the details released Tuesday night.
Agreements were reached with Locals 210, 676 and 68, with the agreement with 68 coming within the last 24 hours. Workers are guaranteed there won’t be any layoffs for two years, and there won’t be any furloughs for the rest of the year. The township is allowed 12 furlough days for each union, if necessary, in 2012.
All unions agreed to forgo and waive recovery of any payments for furlough days served to date, and Local 676 and 68 each agreed to dismiss current pending litigation, with prejudice.
The end result of the deals involving all three unions is the township will save $682,000. Residents will see services returned to them, including twig and branch pickup, grass cutting at town hall and community events that were unable to be held previously, according to Deputy Mayor Don Purdy.
“Our employees lost 20 percent of their income,” Purdy said. “To lose your income is tough. There are people that got laid off that still have to pay taxes.”
“We are very happy to be going back to work on Mondays,” Recreation Director Beth Stasuk said. “Thank you for coming to the table for us.”
Purdy, and every other member of council, commended the employees on their commitment to their jobs during the furloughs.
“They endured a lot, and they came back to the negotiating table,” Councilman Jim Gorman said. “We really appreciate that.”
“I asked the department heads to give me a list of positives in working a five-day workweek as opposed to a four-day week, and all their comments started with serving the public,” Acting Township Manager Steve Bonanni said. “I was floored by their concern for the public.”
The township also agreed not to seek any increase in medical contributions from any of the unions beyond the current rate of 1.5 percent of their salary. There will also be no pay increase for the rest of this year, and a 1 percent increase next year.
Increases in meal allowances were also discussed, with $8 going to 210 and 68, and $8 for breakfast and $10 for dinner for Local 676, which will also get one additional personal day for bargaining unit members and three days bereavement for aunts and uncles.
The deal helped pave the way for the township to introduce the proposed 2011-12 budget, a public hearing for which will be held April 26. This year’s budget won’t be reviewed by the state, which is allowed two out of every three years.
The announcement from the state that aid for municipalities would remain status quo was welcome news, and the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey’s $300,000 donation to the township was also beneficial to a township that was facing a $1.7 million deficit heading into the year.
The state aid translates into $2,581,284 that the township will receive.