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Voters say No to Merit Bonuses and More Vacation

Upton residents shot down an article during the May 5 Annual Town Meeting that would have rewarded nonunion town employees for exemplary service with a financial bonus. The article failed by a majority vote. In all, eight articles to amend the town's Personnel Bylaw were brought forward to voters.

The meritorious bonus program would have allowed a Department Head to recommend a one-time additional bonus to an employee who performed significantly above his or her job expectations. The amount of the bonus could have been a flat amount or based on a percentage of his or her wages. The bonus would have been based on certain criteria including commendations received, self education, operational improvements, assistance within and across other departments, and consistency in performance.

When resident Al Holman asked members of the Board of Selectmen what their opinion was regarding the new bonus program, Selectman Robert Fleming stated his own behalf that he was not in favor of it. Eventually, the article was rejected by voters.

Another article that failed was the Personnel Board's proposed amended bylaw that would have given nonunion town employees with 15 or more years of service a fifth week of vacation; the same as union employees. The purpose of the bylaw was to provide consistency between union and nonunion employees.

Still, a number of Personnel Bylaw amendments were passed during the Town Meeting. One such change, Article 29, adjusted the current longevity program in order to reward nonunion employees at every fifth anniversary of their employment.

Article 31 on the warrant amended the grievance policy to make it a less redundant process seeing that at times it involves discussions with the same parties more than once. Article 32 was also a Personnel Bylaw change and included adding more clearly stated language concerning how and when town employees report to work during inclement weather. The new policy addresses who must report to work and when town offices will be closed. Another Personnel Bylaw change that passed by a majority vote was Article 33, which will now allow administrative staff in the Board of Selectmen's office access to personnel files for recordkeeping purposes.

Other Personnel Bylaws passed included Article 35 which will change the language of the February holiday from Washington's Birthday to Presidents Day and the passage of Article 36 has updated the Family Medical Leave Act to extend benefits for qualifying emergencies or to care for a family member of a seriously ill military service member.


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