MERIDEN — The union representing the city’s public works employees has voted no confidence in Public Utilities Director Richard Meskill and addressed the City Council during its meeting Monday night.
About 20 union members filled the council chambers Monday.
About 60 out of 93 members of AFSCME Local 740 participated in the vote on Oct. 26, with all those in attendance voting no confidence, according to a statement issued by AFSCME before the meeting.
The union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, represents workers in the public works, utilities, water treatment and parks and recreation departments of the city.
Meskill could not immediately be reached for comment.
Union members claim “Meskill has not properly exercised his role in how the department he oversees operates, including many aspects impacting the health and safety of Meriden citizens,” according to a press statement.
One of the main concerns is that capital improvement funds allocated to certain projects are not being utilized.
“Our job is to serve the best interest of Meriden residents,” said Tim Talento, president of AFSCME Local 740. “It’s up to city leaders to work with us when we identify issues that could affect the public. We don’t want Meriden to have the potential to become the next Flint, Michigan when it comes to the protection of public drinking water.”
Members have met with city leaders including Meskill to address their concerns, but with unsatisfactory results, the union said.
“After exhausting all other options, this was the only step remaining,” Talento said.
Talento addressed Monday’s council meeting.
“The only resolution at this time is to remove Mr. Meskill,” Talento said.
Steve Volpini, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, spoke on Meskill’s behalf.
“I was shocked to hear there were difficulties with the union,.” Volpini said. “Having known Rich since he came to us from Wallingford five years ago. the information he has given us and the help he has given us has been very important.”
Volpini praised Meskill for empathetically addressing the concerns of residents when they have leaks that drive water bills possibly risking shut-off.