After more than a year of negotiations, the town of Scarborough and the public works union have reached a collective bargaining agreement that includes a 2.5% wage increase every other year.

The Town Council ratified the three-year contract last week after the union approved it Dec. 1. The union formed in March of 2020 right after the pandemic kicked in.

“I think, to go through this process over the last 18 months, I don’t think that was really what anyone envisioned,” said Liam Gallagher, director of human resources and assistant town manager. “We knew we would get to this point, without any question. It was just a matter of when and how.”

Ed Marzano, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 340, said the length of the negotiations wasn’t that unusual.

“Both parties stuck their heels in the sand. It’s very common,” Marzano said.

“In my opinion, the town of Scarborough is kind of like a schoolyard bully,” he said. “No one was going to tell them what to do and how to do it … that’s why it took so long to get it done.”


The union has 18 members from the Public Works Department, which in May had 29 employees. Local 340 represents more than 4,000 members throughout the state, including other municipal employees, police and firefighters.

The employees unionized at the onset of the pandemic after “a large portion” of the staff was partially furloughed, according to Gallagher.

“From the union’s perspective, what kind of precipitated this motion to organize was some unilateral decision that the town made regarding a workshare program in response to some unknown financial economic certainties from COVID,” Gallagher said.

That workshare program diminished much of the staff’s work hours to 20 per week.

“They cut their schedule from 40 hours to 20 hours and said, ‘Go file for unemployment to get the other half,'” Marzano said.

As negotiations began, the two sides were separated on a number of issues, including the pay scale, wages and scheduling.


Gallagher and Marzano said there were at least 10 failed talks before they got mediators involved.

“I think there were some emotions on both sides,” Gallagher said.

The union held an informational picket outside Town Hall in July with about a dozen workers.

“Scarborough has never had a union picket ever in their history,” Marzano said. “We wanted taxpayers to understand what was going on.”

With the help of mediators and a fact-finding session, the two sides got closer together.

The union heard from outside sources that “maybe the town’s position position on some of these things were not as unreasonable,” Gallagher said, and the town, turning to neighboring municipalities for reference, realizing their shortfalls.


“As we looked around to other community’s public works, perhaps some of our level of benefit wasn’t where it could have been,” he said.

One of the shortfalls, according to Marzano, was how the town treated the public works department relative to the police and fire departments.

“They pay their cops very well,” said Marzano. “They pay their firemen very well. Our ambition was, ‘Well, how come you don’t pay your public works like you pay them?'”

Ultimately, the two sides agreed on an updated pay scale, where employees will receive a 2.5% wage increase every other year. The number of steps in the pay schedule was reduced from 35 to 17, and employees who used to be in one of two classifications are in one consolidated classification. The contract also raises employees’ boot allowance and increases pay for on-call shifts among other changes.

Gallagher said he had concerns that the town’s relationship with the employees would be damaged because of the drawn-out negotiations, but believes both sides are now on the same page.

Marzano agrees.

“I think, at the end of the day, both sides – management and the union – will develop a relationship,” Marzano said.

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