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Water and Sewer employees included in new union

May 27, 2009
MEREDITH — Final approval has been given to the Public Works bargaining unit in Meredith, with the state board also giving membership to employees of certain other departments, including the Water and Sewer Department.

The intention to form a union in the Meredith Public Works, Water and Sewer Departments came to light late last year. The New Hampshire Public Employees Labor Relations Board listened to testimony as the Town of Meredith challenged the inclusion of the Water and Sewer Department in the intended union of the Meredith Public Works Department.

As of late last week, according to State Employees International Union, Local 1984 representative Jeffrey Brown, the PELRB gave their approval to the formation of the collective bargaining unit, including employees from the Water and Sewer Departments.

The petition to form a collective bargaining unit was made by the State Employees International Union, Local 1984. The union is a first for Meredith's town government.

The SEIU sought to form a union between employees at the Public Works Department and the Water and Sewer Department. Though the town raised no objection to the formation of the union, it took issue with the melding together of town departments and with some employees who might be considered to have supervisory powers in the unit.

The PELRB had to decide whether the community of interest between the two departments was strong enough for the employees to form a combined collective bargaining unit.

Subpoenaed to the hearing in December, Public Works Director Mike Faller testified that in 2007, then-Town Manager Carol Granfield had requested that he set up an organizational plan to merge the Public Works and Water and Sewer Departments, in the wake of 2007 problems at the water treatment plant.

"I put together a plan, but I don't know what became of it," said Faller, who said that the plan was dropped as Granfield resigned and the town hired on a new Water and Sewer Department Superintendent, Brian Carroll.

The town prevailed in excluding Assistant Director of Public Works Al Bolduc, who was considered to have supervisory power over some of the other members of the union.

Martin Lord Osman
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