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Twin village boards to hold joint meeting Monday

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CARTHAGE — Two village boards will hold a joint special meeting following a union’s airing of concerns over the termination of a wastewater treatment operator.

The complaint was aired Wednesday at the Carthage/West Carthage Water Pollution Control Facilities management board meeting. The joint meeting of the two boards, set for 5 p.m. today at the Carthage municipal building, 120 S. Mechanic St., also will deal with the intermunicipal agreements regarding a joint sewer system and any other business that comes before the boards.

Teamsters Local 687 business agent Mickey S. Smith, referring to an opinion from attorney Sarah Ruhlen, said the board committed an improper practice by “unilaterally contracting a bargaining unit employee’s sludge hauling job.”

“It’s an affront to us,” Mr. Smith said. “Subcontracting hauling should have been part of collective bargaining.”

In December, the dump truck used to haul sludge did not pass inspection and needed $8,000 in repairs. At that time, the majority of the board was not in favor of making the repairs and sought options for the removal of waste. On Jan. 8, board President Michael F. Astafan authorized Bart Crary, water quality supervisor, to negotiate a 30-day contract with Waste Management for a 30-yard container for hauling sludge. Furthermore, Mr. Crary and Carrie M. Tuttle, director of engineering for the Development Authority of the North Country, were asked to create a bid package for the sludge disposal.

At the Jan. 15 meeting, the board decided to lay off Gregory Pinkham, wastewater treatment operator trainee, because of a lack of work. Mr. Smith claimed that Mr. Pinkham did more at the plant than haul sludge and that his dismissal leaves the plant short-handed.

According to John Lawrence, senior mechanic at the plant, about a quarter of Mr. Pinkham’s job was hauling sludge; he also helped with preventive maintenance.

Mr. Smith also claimed Mr. Pinkham had been unduly treated previously when he was terminated and then brought back because of confusion about when his probationary period had ended. The Teamsters representative also said Mr. Pinkham had not been allowed to obtain needed training.

“He was denied earning potential,” Mr. Smith said. He explained that under Civil Service rules, a trainee must become an operator within 12 months or be dismissed.

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