Municipal workers who tend to the town of East Longmeadow’s roads, water, sewerage and buildings recently ratified their first contract as UWUA members. They had negotiated their prior collective bargaining agreement as members of an independent union before voting in late 2020 to affiliate with the UWUA. There are 28 members working for the town located in southwestern Massachusetts.
This was Local 169’s first time negotiating with the power of a national union to back them up, and it showed in the results they achieved. The new agreement provides substantial increases to the base hourly rates as well as annual guaranteed wage increases. With the addition of two step increases and changes in base step rates, members saw first-year increases ranging from 11% to 16.5%.
“We were independent for over 20 years and weren’t getting the contracts we wanted. This time, we had Dan Hurley [UWUA Region 1 National Representative] with us at the table and it made all the difference,” Local 169 President Dan Tourtellotte recounted.
Aside from the base rate and annual percentage pay increases, the contract includes:
- Improvements in standby pay
- Two new holidays (Juneteenth and Good Friday), for a total of 15 holidays a year
- A third personal day
- Changes to the way sick leave is calculated
- Agreement for new hires to be able to take vacation after 6 months of service, instead of having to wait a year.
“We’ve had a lot of turnover in recent years and have a lot of newer members. The agreement on vacation was particularly important to them,” said Tourtellotte.
The new contract also standardizes grievance and other contract language to better align with UWUA standards.
“As UWUA members, we got a lot less pushback than we’d experienced in the past,” Tourtellotte noted. Hurley suggests this could be due to the town having learned a lesson back in 2021 when UWUA worked with the newly-chartered local to report the then town supervisor to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office for a practice of docking workers for pay they were legally entitled to.
Tourtellotte shared, “Members are very happy with the results — especially the more senior members who were around for prior negotiations. They say it’s the best contract we’ve ever achieved.”