The City of Kingston Common Council voted unanimously last week to adopt a one-year memorandum of agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association which modifies the salary schedule and will give the majority of the union’s membership a raise.
The new salary schedule adjusts wages paid and other provisions by reducing 18 grades of employment to seven. The agreement also indicates future negotiations about salary increases with the stipulation that there will be no retroactive wages included for 2021. The new agreement also requires all workers hired after January 1, 2022 to have a driver’s license.
The agreement does not cover the city’s environmental education and sustainability coordinator Julie Noble, mayor Steve Noble’s wife.
The memorandum of agreement was unanimously passed by the council’s Finance and Audit Committee on December 3 before coming before the full Common Council during a special meeting on December 30.
“I’m proud to vote in favor of this resolution. I think it’s high time that we demonstrate to our hard workers in the CSEA that they deserve our attention,” said majority leader Reynolds Scott-Childress of Ward 3. “They deserve our thanks, as well. I’ve frequently as majority leader praised them in a speech that I give every February. Now I’m happy to back that up with actual monetary advancement for them.”
Patrick O’Reilly, a non-enrolled voter in his final meeting representing Ward 7 also supported the agreement. “This is an economic necessity,” he said. “The pay raises that we’ve been giving city employees haven’t kept up with the economy. This is a necessary thing so that we can recruit new people, talented people, and keep the ones that we have in the City of Kingston.”
But O’Reilly disputed what he said was mayor Noble’s assertion that the move would improve morale among the union workers. “Giving people raises doesn’t build morale,” O’Reilly said. “The department heads and the mayor, if there’s a morale problem in the City of Kingston, they need to build relationships with their employees. They need to get to know them, who they are, who their family is. That’s how you build morale. You build morale from trust and friendship and understanding.”
Moments after the voting took place, an unidentified person virtually crashed the meeting, which was partially held in chambers, partially remotely over Zoom. The interloper used racial epithets while playing a video of a person being kicked while on the ground. They also told the council to “Shut the fuck up” before city clerk Elisa Tinti shut down the live stream. That portion of the meeting has been excised from the archive on YouTube with a message noting that “This recording of the Common Council meeting has been edited to comply with YouTube’s Hate Speech Policy.”