Former Trustee of Sag Harbor Village Slams Arbitration in Community Forum, Despite Impending Arbitration
Despite a contract that is being determined in arbitration, there is continuing tension in New York between Sag Harbor Village and the Sag Harbor Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA). This tension has been brewing for two years between the village and the PBA, and has resulted in a stalemate that has left both sides unwilling to budge.
The dispute has occurred over negotiated salaries and benefits for the police members of the PBA. Just last Saturday, a few days before the initial formal arbitration hearing would take place, a community forum was held at Pierson Middle/High School in Sag Harbor. In that forum, it was obvious just how embittered the battle had become.
In particular, Bill Jones, who sponsored the forum, and served as a former trustee of Sag Harbor village and former County legislator for Suffolk County, labeled the arbitration process as being “rigged.” He used the forum as an opportunity to educate the local public on the way the arbitration process works. In that instruction, he informed listeners that “the process [of arbitration] is unfair” and “has led to the arrogance of the unions, and finally, the ultimate effect both have had on local governments—that happens to be tyranny.”
Bill Jones stated that Article 14 of the New York State Civil Service Law (known as Taylor Law) outlines the rights and processes for unions with members in public service. He reiterated that the problem with the bill is that it requires the arbitration panel or arbitrator to consider if a municipality has the financial means to meet the requests of the union. The result of this, according to Jones, is the “insidious, cancerous viewpoint” that “since a municipality [has] the unlimited ability to tax, then it always has the ability to pay.”
In the meeting, Jones also explained how the arbitration panel is chosen and suggested that although there is a list of roughly 50 arbitrators from which to choose, only a few are chosen on a regular basis, thus prompting unfair proceedings. “Why this is should be apparent,” Jones said, “an arbitrator unfriendly to union demands and with possible sympathies to the municipality’s position is not going to get much arbitration work in New York State.”