EVANS CITY — During its reorganization meeting Monday, borough council voted to recognize the union protecting its street employees.
The motion to recognize the Local 538 union as protecting its street employees was made by Councilman Norman Nelson. The decision was unanimous.
A retired employee of the Evans City Public Works Department, Nelson was one of four new council members — including Brad Rubinosky, who seconded the motion to recognize the union — to take office on the five-person board. “We did it to protect our jobs and make things right,” Nelson said. “That's why I wanted to bring it back in.”
Employees of the department are responsible for street, sewer and water maintenance.
Nelson said that about two years ago many municipalities were laying off employees, prompting Evans City borough employees to seek union support through Local 538.
“We heard we were probably going to lose our (jobs), so we went with the union to protect ourselves,” Nelson said, who was still employed at the time.
There were two employees before Nelson retired in March. He said he gave the borough two months notice, hoping he would be replaced, but a second employee was not hired.
After he left, Nelson said borough council no longer recognized the union as applying to their one remaining employee.
“There was only one guy here working for six months by himself, until they finally hired somebody else,” Nelson said. “They said it was to save money.”
A second employee later was hired to help with leaves and snow removal.
Both employees are protected by the union.
The recognition of the union was part of a busy night for the board.
Cheri Deener-Kohan was voted as council president and Nelson as vice president.
Former council president Lee Dyer, whose term expired at the end of the year, also attended and spoke at the meeting.
He talked about how he helped some of the new council members with their transition.
He said he was proud of the work accomplished by the former council and the many members of the board he had worked with in the past.
“We had some difficult choices to make, and we made those,” Dyer said.
Deener-Kohan said the board now has many new faces, but she feels confident in its ability to work together, especially on issues of flood mitigation and streets.
“I think they need some new blood,” she said. “We got it.”