Town employees ink ‘best contract’ in years after board approves new deal

The Riverhead Town Board approved a new, three-year contract Wednesday that will give 185 of the town’s union employees a 5% salary increase in 2023, and 2% increases in the second and third years of the deal.

The workers, members of the town’s Civil Service Employees Association, are also getting an overall 3.75% “step” increase in the new contract’s salary schedule, or 1.25% for each of the three years.

The vote was 4-0, with Supervisor Yvette Aguiar absent because she was attending a meeting on bringing public water to residents in parts of Manorville and Calverton.

Ms. Aguiar had previously said that employees would get the 5% increase when she released her 2023 budget in September of last year.

The CSEA contract also gives employees a one-time, $1,500 lump sum payment per the new contract, according to Terri DeFilippis, president of the Riverhead unit of the CSEA. “It’s such a proud moment for us,” Ms. DeFilippis said. “This is undoubtedly the best contract we’ve seen in many many years.”

The CSEA ratified the deal Monday and the Town Board approved it Tuesday.

“We gave nothing away, and the town clearly saw our value and understood that we’ve had very, very poor contracts over the last four or five contracts and they really tried to make it right by us,” Ms. DeFilippis said.

“I think it was a good contract for the workers,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said. “And I think it was fair to the taxpayers, given the current economic times. But I think we have to bring the CSEA salary up because we’re having a hard time filling positions and keeping positions, due to the low salaries.”

The previous CSEA contract expired Dec. 31, 2022.

“It’s very difficult to live on Long Island and New York,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We want to keep our workers here and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen. We can’t make it all up in one contract, but we will try to help get them up to a better living wage in the next contract.”