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Van Buren: Labor negotiations make little progress

Van Buren is at an impasse in labor negotiations with the union representing its highway workers, the town board declared in a 6-0 vote at its Aug. 17 meeting.

The board's personnel committee held several meetings with representatives from AFSCME Local 2660, New York Council 66 and could not reach an agreement on yearly raises and town health care contributions for retirees, said Derek Shepard, councilor. Van Buren will now file paperwork to bring in an independent arbitrator to attempt to reach a solution, he said.

"We'll bring in a mediator and see if a third party can come up with any kind of creative idea or persuade one side," Shepard said.

The town wants to cut its contribution to retired employees' health care costs, Shepard said. Van Buren currently pays 75 percent of those costs.

"We have three retirees now and it's $30,000," he said. "We could be looking at $100,000 with 10 retirees."

In exchange for eliminating the health care contributions, Van Buren offered to give highway workers a 3 percent raise each year of the proposed three-year contract, Shepard said. That is above raises being offered elsewhere, he said.

The two sides do agree on a town proposal to change current employees' health care contributions from 20 percent to 25 percent, Shepard said.

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