QUEENSBURY — The dispute over a cemetery worker’s hours has been resolved by hiring another employee.
Laborer Michael Brunelle has been allowed to return to his normal Monday through Friday work schedule at Pine View Cemetery. On Monday, the Town Board hired another person who will work Tuesday through Saturday.
In May, Cemetery Superintendent Connie Goedert proposed moving Brunelle to the Tuesday-Saturday shift over his objections. The union took his side, saying the town had to get union approval for any shift changes.
Initially, the Town Board voted to move Brunelle to the new shift. But after the union filed a grievance, the two sides negotiated a resolution.
“We just came to an agreement,” Goedert said. “That’s been resolved.”
New employee Raymond Wood will be trained in how to operate the crematorium. He will also be a groundskeeper.
“Once he’s trained, we’ll be open for Saturdays,” Goedert said.
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The solution has worked out better than her original plan, she added.
“I get another person. I think it’s better,” she said.
Brunelle also got what he wanted: the Monday-to-Friday laborer job he had before. He has four school-aged children and spends Saturdays with his eldest son, who is on a travel sports team. He didn’t want to run a crematorium to begin with, and he especially didn’t want to work Saturdays.
However, switching one cemetery employee to a Saturday schedule was supposed to save the town money. The idea was that it would be cheaper than paying the cremater to come in when bodies needed to be cremated on occasional Saturdays. Instead, the cemetery department is going from four employees to five employees.
The crematorium is on track to cremate about 1,000 bodies this year, as it has for several years, Goedert said. Once the crematorium gets to about 1,500 cremations a year, she expects to need to hire more staff.
“It will get there. It’s only going to get bigger,” she said, citing studies that show about 80% of all bodies will be cremated in the future.