The State Labor Board ruled last week that the town must bring back four Recreation Department employees laid off last July 1 after Mayor Scott Jackson and the Legislative Council approved privatizing the management of the Louis Astorino Ice Rink.
"The town will appeal the decision," Chief Administrative Officer Curt BalzanoLeng said Monday afternoon.
On Monday, union officials gathered with many of its members outside the rink to extol the decision, and said they're confident it, as well as an earlier decision this year to bring back five laid off Public Works employees, will hold up upon appeal.
"We are confident that both decisions will stand up to any appeal," said United Public Service Employees Union Regional Director Wayne Gilbert said. "The town's labor attorney should recognize this and encourage the town to honor the decision."
The four rink employees were laid off last July 1 after town officials decided to subcontract out the management of the ice rink, a move they said would save between $300,000 and $400,000.
Union officials dispute that figure and say that the town did not raise rates at the rink as they recommended, which, they said, would have resulted in the rink either breaking even or making a small profit. When the company the town hired, MAB Rink Management, took over, it immediately doubled and tripled rates, Gilbert said.
The union also took the position that the town's actions were illegal in accordance with its contract with the town, a position with which the Labor Board agreed.
The union appealed the decision to privatized the rink, and, according to union officials, town officials turned away several offers from the union to settle the issue before the Labor Board's ruling.
According to the ruling, the four employees must be reinstated within 30 days, or the town must appeal the decision within 30 days.
"The town feels that the decision was inconsistent and in many aspects misinterpreted," Leng said. "We got out of the ice rink business not by choice, but in an effort to save over $300,000 in this year's budget, changes that need to happen to keep taxes and services stable."
An appeal means the issue could drag out for many more months, Gilbert said. If the decision is upheld and the town ultimately does have to bring the employees back, they also will collect back pay retroactive to July 1, 2010, he said, minus any wages the laid off employees earned during that time. All four said they have been unemployed since the layoff.