A New Day in Middletown
L-R: Patricia Charles, Mayor Daniel Drew, Jeff Daniels and Ed Thibodeau
Middletown public service workers are hailing a settlement agreement with the city and board of education that that ends years of legal strife and paves the way for a new era of labor relations.
AFSCME Local 466 President Jeff Daniels and Council 4 Staff Representative Ed Thibodeau joined Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, Superintendent of Schools Patricia Charles and Board of Education Chairman Eugene Nocera to announce the settlement at a press conference held Oct. 22 in Council Chambers.
“This is a long time coming,” Drew stated. “This is a new day.”
The settlement between the City, the Board of Education and Local 466 includes the resolution of 23 grievances, three labor board charges and one lawsuit against the Board of Education and the City stemming from longstanding payroll and personnel disputes.
The City agreed to pay $259,000 to fund the grievance and labor charge settlements, as well several new Local 466 bargaining unit positions.
“This settlement is good for the taxpayers and most importantly, it’s good for the kids at our schools,” Daniels said.
Drew likened the settlement to “untying an incredibly large knot,” because it also involved lawsuits between the City and the Board of Education over the control of non-teaching staff.
Local 466 members approved the settlement by a decisive margin on Oct. 18. The union represents nearly 400 city and board of education employees, including school custodians, maintainers, secretaries, nurses and cafeteria staff. All Local 466 members are hired by the City, but school employees are supervised by Board of Education personnel.
Drew, a Democrat who was elected to his first term last November, made it a priority to settle the legal entanglements that had resulted in contentious relations between labor and management.
“Mayor Drew followed through. He was determined to get this done. The difference between the way things were and the way they are now is like night and day,” said Thibodeau, who served as Local 466’s advocate during the settlement talks.