Five employees in the Brookfield Department of Public Works received their pink slips last week, Village Manager David Owen said, with layoffs going into effect on Sept. 2.
The move has been expected since the beginning of the month, when the village announced their 2005-06 budget would include layoffs for up to seven village employees. In this instance, four full-time union employees and one non-union part-time employee were laid off. Owen said two employees in the village manager’s office have already been terminated.
Owen had previously said there was a possibility of saving the Public Works positions and that the village would work with SEIU Local 73, the union that represents Public Works employees, to try to find alternatives to the layoffs. Owen said the village looked at the possibility of outsourcing cleaning jobs or offering early retirement packages to some employees, but the union rejected these options.
“It was their decision,” he said.
However, Jon Baker, the union representative from Local 73, disputed that characterization, saying the village offered terms that were impossible for the union to accept. According to Baker, the village said they would retain one Public Works position if the union allowed it to outsource two other jobs, but the other three Public Works positions would still be terminated.
“If they outsourced two jobs, they would retain one job,” Baker said. “Do the math; it didn’t seem fair to us.”
After the union rejected this initial offer, Baker said, the village then made any negotiations on early retirement packages contingent on the union accepting outsourcing. Baker said the union couldn’t agree to this.
“It seemed like they were jacking up the stakes,” he said.
Owen, however, said he thought the offer the village made to the union was fair.
“We had to tie [the retirement package] to something,” he said. “Otherwise that’s not fair negotiating.”
Owen said the four employees who are being laid off would have an 18-month recall provision, where they would be the first people contacted if the village needed extra workers in Public Works. Owen did not think this would be a likely scenario, however.
“If our revenues stay as tight as they are, that’s unlikely,” he said. “I have nothing against any of them, they just happen to be the lowest on the seniority list.”
Baker said he hoped the employees would be called back, and that the village would realize the positions were necessary.
“Hopefully they’ll realize that those people were needed, that their work was important,” he said.