GREENBURGH, N.Y. – In a meeting full of screams, applause and very little order, the Greenburgh Town Board sat silently as almost 20 employees of the town's Department of Public Works stepped forward to address their complaints.
Greenburgh residents who attended Wednesday night's board meeting were greeted by a sea of red, as almost 50 Public Works employees stood outside Town Hall, 177 Hillside Ave., dressed in matching T-shirts and carrying protest signs.
DPW employees have been without a contract for several years, while other town workers have been offered "substantial increases since 2008," according to a statement by the DPW employees, and this isn't the first time they have voiced their complaints.
"You disrespect us to the fullest by giving us that little bit of contract you give us, when you know we work harder," said Sidney Sweeney, a sanitation and highway worker. "It's time that you respect us."
During the public comment portion of the Town Board meeting, many of the employees said they just want to be treated fairly, while some personally attacked Town Supervisor Paul Feiner as the rest encouraged and clapped loudly.
"Is this the way you reward your employees? With threats and intimidation and no wage increases?" asked Louis Picante, a DPW employee.
Feiner attempted to defend the board – barely getting a word out before a screaming match ensued between him and Picante.
Feiner said the board did present an offer to increase DPW wages, but the workers argued it was nothing compared to increases received by other employees. Feiner then suggested they release all the contract details publicly, as there may be "some misinformation going on."
"I appreciate all the hard work all you guys do. But I don't want the people to feel like we're offering zeroes," Feiner said. "Maybe if they knew what we were proposing they would support it."
The workers insisted the contract was impossible to approve because it would require them to pay an additional 12 percent of medical bills, which Feiner denied as being true.
The workers left the meeting early as a group, claiming that Feiner still wouldn't entertain their contract options, which were not made public. The workers said they would return at the next Town Board meeting, scheduled for Oct. 10 in the Town Hall auditorium. The CSEA union represents the town employees.