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Two union grievances denied in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

January 25. 2013 3:42PM

NASHUA -- City officials have denied two grievances filed by a local union, one of which claimed more employees should have been called in to assist with Hurricane Sandy storm cleanup.

The American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 365, Council 93, submitted one of the grievances on Nov. 5, 2012, about a week after the major storm caused significant power outages and fallen trees throughout the greater Nashua area.

Matt Eiserman, union president, claims in the grievance that all park department employees should have been called in to assist in the storm cleanup before street department employees were sought for duty.

In the grievance, he asked that two employees -- Eiserman and Paul Haskell -- be paid 16 hours of overtime to make up for the alleged error.

Nicholas Caggiano, superintendent of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, initially denied the grievance in November, explaining the division staffed the storm with the personnel that it required from each department based on the storm forecasts and the equipment that was needed, according to the finding on record at Nashua City Hall.

Last week, the Director of Public Works, Lisa Fauteux, agreed with Caggiano and also denied the grievance.

"The street department plays a critical role in emergency operations because it has the largest staff, most equipment and it's critical to keep streets clear for emergency personnel to get to those in need," Fauteux said in a memo to the Board of Public Works. "As a result, we staffed a street department crew for the hurricane. It was also decided to staff a Parks and Recreation crew since there was the possibility of downed trees."

While the union maintains that all park employees should have been asked to work in order to remove the trees before any street department workers were called to assist, Fauteux explained that both crews were called in to help with the emergency, not solely to remove trees.

"As with any emergency, we were uncertain what challenges we would encounter. An emergency is always staffed with the appropriate staff and equipment to ensure the safety of Nashua's residents," she said in the memo, stressing that no violation of the collective bargaining agreement occurred.

She also denied a second grievance filed by the same union regarding an incident the day prior to the storm.

According to the grievance, the union claims that members of the Chamber of Commerce should not have been allowed access to Holman Stadium the day after their annual gala without the presence of lead groundsman.

The grievance sought compensation for the groundsman, but it was denied since representatives of the Silver Knights baseball club permitted the chamber group to remove a few remaining items without notifying the city, according to the finding.

"While the Parks and Recreation Department does a good job of maintaining the stadium, they do not have exclusive rights to the stadium. The City of Nashua owns the stadium, and the Silver Knights were being good stewards of the stadium by allowing the chamber access," wrote Fauteux.

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