Volunteers are expected to begin putting up Christmas decorations in Middletown Borough this weekend following an agreement is reached between the Boro and the Teamsters local.The deal is settles a grievance with the union representing the Borough’s non-uniform employees that will allow community minded volunteers to once again make Middletown a festive place for the Christmas season.
“We are happy to have arrived at an agreement which will allow volunteers to decorate The Square and Hoffer Park again this year,” said Borough Council woman Barbara Arnold, who chairs the Community Development Committee. “The volunteers did such a wonderful job last year; it would have been a shame to not be able to continue that tradition.”
Earlier this fall, Arnold announced the Borough would be forced to suspend the decorating activities this year after members of Teamsters Local 776 filed grievances seeking compensation for the work the volunteers did last year. The Borough’s solicitor had advised against using volunteers Hoffer Park and The Square again this year, citing the threat of additional potentially costly grievances.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the union recognizes the Borough’s right to use volunteers so long as such use does not result in employee layoffs. The agreement also calls for that language to be included in the new contract currently being negotiated.
“We appreciate the union leadership’s efforts to resolve this matter in time to Christmas,” said Borough Manager Tim Konek, who is part of the Borough’s negotiating team. “In the end we were able to find common ground and put aside our differences for the good of Middletown.”
Although the late date of the settlement shortens the time available to get the Borough decorated, Arnold expressed confidence the work can be completed in short order without any impact on the quality of the decorations.
“Trees have already been ordered and we will get busy decorating this weekend,” said Borough spokesperson Chris A. Courogen. “And the Borough will be even more beautiful this Christmas thanks to the efforts of Jenny Miller, Dawn Knull, and the new Community Events Committee, which have erected a community Christmas tree and have been busy decorating the grounds of the historic Band Hall and Ferry House.”
Volunteers interested in helping decorate Hoffer Park and The Square are asked to gather at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot at Borough Hall