CHESHIRE — The town's contracts with five municipal unions, including police, will expire this June.
The Town Council met this week behind closed doors to discuss strategy for the upcoming negotiations.
Town Council Chairman Rob Oris Jr. said the strategy session and upcoming negotiations “are important conversations to have.”
“It's important that we're respectful to everyone in the process,” Oris said. “At the same time, we have to be protective of the people who elect us, the taxpayer.”
The contracts cover more than 130 workers. Along with police, the agreements involve Town Hall employees, emergency dispatchers, public works and Cheshire Public Library employees.
The Cheshire Police Union, with 46 members, has the largest membership of the five. The Town Hall Employees union has the second largest membership with 41, according to the latest records.
Human Resources Director Louis A. Zullo said it's not unusual for contract talks to continue beyond the June 30 expiration dates. If a new contract is not in place, employees would “continue to operate under the terms and conditions of the existing contracts.”
According to Record-Journal archives, the town's current agreement with the police union wasn't negotiated until 2018 — two years after the prior pact had expired. The current agreement raised annual salaries by 2.4 percent over levels under the previous contract. Those raises were offset by reduced benefits, including a cut in the base pay percentage received for retirement pensions.
Zullo did not discuss issues expected to be discussed in upcoming negotiations. The town is keeping an eye on contract settlements in other municipalities.
“We know the range where settlements have been,” Zullo said. “We know what issues are going to arbitration. We know what arbitration settlements have been. So we're not operating in a vacuum.”
Attempts to reach union leaders this week were unsuccessful.