HALIFAX — Selectmen met Tuesday, Dec. 12, and swiftly voted on various classes of license renewals (alcoholic beverage licenses, common victualler licenses, automotive licenses and others) before quickly executing their relatively short agenda around appointments, including a closed-door executive session involving a Highway Department union grievance appeal. In a rare move, the board came out of executive session into open session and immediately announced their findings to the public regarding the appeal.
Highway Surveyor decision upheld
The Selectmen upheld a decision by the elected Highway Surveyor and Cemetery Superintendent R. Steven Hayward to deny highway worker Steve Waterman, of Kingston, a heavy equipment operator (HEO) position, with its requisite pay, in that executive session. After the hearing, the board released information regarding Waterman’s grievance, including allegations of his poor job performance and behavior on the job.
According to a letter to the board dated Dec. 5 from Dave Swanson, union steward of AFSCME Council 93 Local 1700, Hayward had denied multiple requests by Waterman for the HEO position over the previous 18 months, allegedly in violation of two articles of the union’s contract – article XXIX regarding heavy equipment operators and article XVIII regarding seniority.
In November, the months-long issue came to a head, and Waterman, along with Swanson and union representative Kim Silvia, demanded Hayward produce his reasons for denying the HEO position in writing.
Hayward wrote a letter outlining his reasons which included a lack of initiative for daily duties, not working well with others, lack of common department knowledge, causing delays in projects by not completing them fully, abusing equipment and working despite expired licenses.
“It has been a year and half [sic] since I was elected to my position and in that time, I have given Steve Waterman two verbal warnings, written him up twice and given him a two-day suspension. I have not seen any change or improvement in Steve’s work performance, attitude or ability…” stated Hayward in that letter.
Following the written explanation, the union filed a grievance with Hayward, which he rejected. Waterman next appealed to the Selectmen, who upheld the highway surveyor’s decision to deny Waterman the position.
Should Waterman wish to appeal the board’s decision, he would next select either the American Arbitration Association or the Labor Relations Connection for a binding decision, according to Town Administrator Charlie Seelig.
Police staffing changes
Chief Joao Chaves was before the board requesting that permanent intermittent police officer Andrew W. Lyczynski, 23, be promoted as a full-time patrol officer in response to police officer Robert Brigg’s impending retirement effective Dec. 31.
The board enthusiastically accepted the chief’s recommendation, on the condition that he pass a physical and the full-time police academy, and there were handshakes all-around as Lyczynski excitedly signed paperwork.
The board, at Chaves request as well, voted to call up the civil service list to fill vacancies in the department, as he expects at least two retirements in 2019 and will also need a replacement for Lyczynski.
Popes Tavern Ethernet aging
Networking problems at Popes Tavern have left the Council on Aging with unreliable access to the internet and town intranet, said Seelig, and he says it’s not fair that town employees are not able to sit down at their desks and get their work done nor is it fair to the town’s IT director, Cesar Calouro, Jr., or to himself – Seelig also often deals with IT problems for the town as he is quite tech-savvy – to constantly be fixing problems there when a new ethernet wiring system and server are needed at the historic building.
The board approved Seelig’s request to go straight to the finance committee to ask for $8,000 in emergency funding to fix the problem so that employees and patrons of the CoA do not have to wait until a town meeting for a solution.
The Board of Selectmen will next meet Jan. 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room of Town Hall.