Upstate workers win $200,000 in back pay
Six from Local 376 get pay hikes and promotions
after filing a grievance
GRIEVANCE over out-of-title work assignments resulted in
promotions, raises and back pay awards for these watershed workers
at the Ashokan Reservoir.
Six former Watershed Maintainers at the Ashokan Reservoir
and the widow of a seventh shared in a $200,000 settlement of their out-of-title
work grievance against the city Dept. of Environmental Protection.
In the case, which began three years ago, a hearing before an impartial
arbitrator led quickly to the settlement that included raises, back pay
and promotions from their Local 376 jobs to Project Manager, a position
represented by Technical Guild Local 375.
This was a huge victory for the members, said Alan Brown,
the DC 37 attorney who handled the arbitration.
We are proud that we helped them get the right pay for the work
they have been doing, said Local 376 President Gene DeMartino. Our
local will follow up with any other members who are doing out-of-title
Watershed Maintainers Eric Kight, Alysia Whitmarsh and five co-workers
were DEP inspectors who protected the citys drinking water by issuing
fishing and boating permits, patrolling aqueducts, steam-cleaning boats,
and posting signs and more. But in January 2003, DEP assigned them more
complex tasks that went beyond their job specifications. For them to become
state-certified inspectors, DEP provided training in analyzing soil and
testing its drainage and excavating trenches, which called for engineering
They also began to oversee construction of in-ground septic systems at
private upstate residences jobs that can cost a homeowner $30,000
to $40,000 to protect the citys water supply and neighbors
Kight and Whitmarsh kept journals noting their additional duties and responsibilities.
After sharing this information with Local 376 and Blue Collar Rep David
Catala, Whitmarsh said, We decided to file a grievance to get what
What they deserved was pay and promotions because their Maintainers
job had become more comparable to Project Engineers who inspect commercial
septic systems, said Kight, an eight-year DEP veteran.
Management was willing to hear us and never tried to deny us anything,
Kight said. We presented the best case with our journals. The city
investigated it and listened to us.
Local 376 and Dave Catala stood by us, worked hard and were nothing
but supportive, Kight said. Site visits by DC 37 attorney
Brown meant a lot and earned our trust, Kight added. The union
and management listened to our concerns and witnessed the work we do.
Win, lose or draw, we wanted someone to listen.
While many of their new responsibilities did not fall under any city job
description, both sides agreed that the career move up to Project Manager
was appropriate. In the new title, their salaries went up by almost $5,000
and their weekly hours went down from 40 to 35.
All of us care about what we do, DEPs reputation, and our
relationship with the watershed community, Kight said. The
settlement between DEP and our union is the best for everybody involved.