LEWISTON – Sixteen workers in Lewiston’s Water Pollution Control Center opened up their paychecks last week and found their salaries had been cut 3 percent.

The CSEA Lewiston unit, which represents the employees, called the cut a “slap in the face” in a press release Tuesday.

Negotiations broke down earlier this month between the Town of Lewiston and the control center workers.

Town Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey Sr. said two weeks ago that three percent raises that went into effect in January were never ratified by the board.

Employees were warned that the salaries would go back to pre-2014 levels. They were also ordered to return the overpayment, about $800 per employee, or face legal action.

But CSEA Lewiston Unit President Ryan Treichler disagreed and noted in a statement that Brochey and the board voted 5-0 during the January reorganizational meeting to adopt the 2014 salary schedule.

“Supervisor Brochey is wrong when he claims the raise was ‘never approved by the town’ and it is ‘an illegal use of public funds.’ He is stalling negotiations and using this as a scare tactic. Now he plans to waste taxpayer money by hiring an outside attorney to negotiate with us,” Treichler said in a statement

Treichler said in the statement that CSEA members overwhelming voted to approve a tentative agreement with the town last fall, but the town board members never voted on the deal.

He said board members have said they knew nothing about the deal, yet the budget session minutes from Nov. 4, 2013 included a discussion about the agreement.

Brochey has denied that the salary cut was a negotiating tactic.