At Long Last: Overdue Support and a Living Wage for our Highway Department
We are absolutely delighted that a Teamsters union contract has finally been put into place for our dedicated town Highway Department employees who have been waiting two and a half years for more competitive wages and benefits!
This is a great victory for the workers, as well as all New Baltimore residents who depend on Highway Department services 24-7, 365 days a year, to keep our roads safe, respond to both ordinary and extreme weather events, and otherwise provide critical aid to us when we need it most. Most recently, devastating summer storms and flooding have impacted our town, and our Highway employees, together with local Fire Department volunteers, were first on the scene to lend all of us a caring and professional helping hand.
At a paltry starting wage of around $18 an hour, our highway workers have been the lowest paid in the region — bleeding employees to other municipalities, the railroad and other public and private enterprises where they could obtain a living wage reflecting their skills, dedication and training. At one point, we were down to only two employees for the entire town.
Now, with a new starting wage of $23.25 an hour, and 2.5 percent annual increases for the next few years, we have a great opportunity to get our Highway Department fully staffed and truly ensure our public safety. It was a long time coming, and it’s appropriate that the new wages and benefits took effect on Labor Day!
We believe the employees were absolutely correct in rejecting previous contract offers with the Town proposing a lower wage and leaving a number of issues, like work hours, to be negotiated at a later date — with no guarantee the Town would even come back to the table.
We mounted an effort this year to bring residents out to Town Board meetings in force to speak out in support of the Highway Department and demand action on the contract. Public pressure worked, and we are grateful for the many New Baltimore folks who joined us — filling up those seats in Town Hall like never before! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy lives to fight for our workers and underscore the overriding responsibility of the town to keep us all safe.
Congratulations to our Highway folks! Our quality of life, and sometimes our very lives, depend on you! We are happy our words and actions on your behalf — and on behalf of our entire town —were finally heard and heeded.