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Ellery Highway Workers Again Address Board Over Wages

Employees of the Ellery Highway Department again expressed their dissatisfaction with the town regarding ongoing talks on wages and benefits.

Three workers spoke during the public comment portion of December’s board meeting. At least one, Pete Samuelson, said their presence was a “statement of protest” on the stalled talks.

“A statement of protest for the way the town has handled negotiations,” Samuelson read in a letter that was included in the town’s minutes posted to its website.

Workers have gone before the Ellery Town Board on several occasions to voice annoyance over the lack of progress on the negotiations regarding wages, health insurance and other employee benefits.

At December’s meeting, Samuelson said the workers were protesting the “lack of urgency to resolve our issues.” He noted that, from January 2021 to that point in the year, there had been only four in-person meetings, with one held in October 2021 that included an appointed mediator.

One phone call between the town and the employees’ union in seven weeks since the October gathering was also a point of contention.

In his letter. Samuelson pondered whether the workers should use the same sense of urgency handling town road maintenance.

“Would it be OK if we waited seven weeks to clear the snow from the roads?” he asked. “Would it be OK if we waited seven weeks to clear the tree across the road? If seven weeks was too long, how about seven days or even seven hours? Would that be urgent enough? I personally don’t know but I think it’s a legitimate question. What is the urgency? Maybe if it’s not urgent for you then why should anything be urgent for us?”

Samuelson asked the board to go into executive session to discuss the matter. Two other employees of the highway department also then addressed the board.

Members of the town board did enter into executive session at the conclusion of the meeting.

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