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Peekskill Agrees To Hold More Meetings With Unions

PEEKSKILL – The city manager will meet with union representatives on a more frequent basis starting in the next 10 days following Monday evening’s Teamsters union protest at City Hall. Mayor Mary Foster said that the meetings came about following the lengthy executive session meeting between Common Council members, City Manager Rick Finn and representatives from the Teamsters and the Fire and Police department union representatives prior to Monday’s meeting.

“We’re going to be making sure that the communications [between the sides] is working much better than they have been,” Foster said.

Members of the unions at Monday’s protest, which included a giant inflatable rat used by unions to denote non-union compliance, said that they are frustrated with the city for not adhering to previously negotiated contracts and for reneging on labor deals previously made with the unions. Protesters also claimed there was a lack of communication with Finn over grievances brought to the city’s attention.

Finn said that the Teamsters had only begun negotiations on a new contract after the city reached out to them in recent weeks, and that their last contract had only expired at the end of last year. He also cited city and statewide economic difficulties for the current tough negotiations, saying the city couldn’t afford to give the kind of raises and insurance benefits in years past. Several Peekskill Republican candidates, including mayoral candidate Tony Washington, also showed up as the protest got started and distributed a two-page typed statement to union members blasting the city leadership.

“What we are witnessing today by our unionized workforce is the direct result of ineffective leadership in Peekskill which rests squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Mary Foster and her administration,” said the statement. “All prior city administrations led by both Democrats and Republican majorities found ways to professionally and effectively engage the represented workforce and come to agreements that have worked to the benefit of our citizens.”

However, Foster said on Tuesday union reps told her during the executive session their frustrations lay with a lack of communication with Finn, not the mayor or the council, and that the more frequent meetings would hopefully alleviate those concerns.

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