"No members of the town board showed up," Skabry said.
He added that while the mediator was helpful, and "tried extremely hard" to resolve issues — and, while CSEA members were willing to meet again to keep talks ongoing — the town board "refused to meet with us until December 11."
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, when reached for a response, said he could not comment.
"It's discouraging that the town cannot make themselves available until December 11," Skabry said. "That's almost a full year that we will have been working without a contract. But this is just status quo for the entire negotiations process."
Skabry has said while he can't comment on the issues that are points of dispute, including salary, health benefits, and various job security protections, he did say the town "improperly said that we were asking for a 3.75 percent increase."
In fact, Skabry said, the CSEA "was willing to discuss" a range of numbers, low to ceiling amounts."
Skabry said he was "disheartened" by the town's refusal to sit down at the table.
"I have to do my best to keep the calm among the membership, to protect them," Skabry said. "But it's going to get harder and harder as time goes on. We're coming into the home heating season. People are having a hard enough time, trying to make ends meet. They can barely keep up with the cost of living."
Skabry said the union gave up the last year of the past contract, which extended until 2010. When the contract was extended for two additional years, he said union members saw an increase of four percent each year, for a total of eight percent over two years.
Skabry said he did not understand why the town would balk at a suggested increase of three percent, and that the CSEA was willing to negotiate numbers, to no avail.
"The town is not taking the negotiations process seriously," Skabry said. "This was a real disappointment. We are disappointed, but in all fairness, everyone should be disappointed that the town board is acting this way. It really is a slap in the face."
Despite the challenges, Skabry said CSEA members will "continue to work to the best of our abilities in the interim, and we'll continue through the legal process of negotiation, and see what happens. Understandable the CSEA membership is getting frustrated with the town."
On Tuesday, members of Southold's labor union filled the town board room on Tuesday night and sat silently Skabry asked the town board to sit down at the mediation table.
With negotiations stalled, Skabry said a first mediation session would take place with the CSEA on Wednesday.
CSEA members have been working without a contract; their contract expired on December 31. Originally, he said, the previous three-year contract was due to expire in 2010, but when the town faced financial hurdles, the union agreed to "open the contract" as part of negotiations and stretched it for another two years.
At the meeting, Skabry said he'd asked Town Supervisor Scott Russell and a board member if they would be willing to sit down at the mediation table to negotiate a contract. He said he'd been told the town's outside labor counsel, attorney Rich Zuckerman, would be discussing the matter during an executive session work session earlier Tuesday.
"Will town board members be attending?" he asked.
"We'll take any suggestion under advisement," Russell said.
Skabry countered, "To be honest, I think that is the problem." He said when Russell was first elected, he sat down at the table. "You helped us out. Because of that, we were able to get a contract faster, and not need mediation."
He added that if town board members attended the mediation session, they would get critical firsthand information.
Members of the CSEA applauded loudly.
The CSEA, Skabry added, is represented by labor specialist Guy Dicosola.
The goal, Skabry said, is to engage the town in the dialogue. "We want them to get more involved, to understand exactly what's going on at the table. We've been getting the impression that the town board is not being fully apprised of the process, and that's caused a stumbling block."
He added that there has been "absolutely no movement" by the town's labor counsel, despite the CSEA having offered counter proposals.
While the CSEA is prohibited by law from going on strike, Skabry said workers are allowed to have public demonstrations, moving forward.
"We don't want to go down that road, but we will do what we have to do," he said.
After Skabry spoke at Tuesday's meeting, no one else had comments at the podium. CSEA members, wearing stickers that read, "We Are Southold, Here To Deliver the Services You Need," filed out quietly.