Fulton County OKs new union deal

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government’s 285 unionized employees have their first new contract in more than three years, although it mostly contains no raises.

The Board of Supervisors voted 19-0 Monday, with one absence, to approve a new, five-year collective bargaining agreement with the county’s general unit, Local 818, Civil Service Employees Association. Action came after a lengthy executive session behind closed doors between supervisors and labor attorney Elayne Gold at the County Office Building.

The retroactive contract grants no raises for 2010, 2013 and 2014. Sandwiched in is a 1 percent raise for all of 2011 and the first half of 2012, and a 1.5 percent raise for the second half of 2012.

“I think it was fair all the way around,” said Bleecker Supervisor David Howard, chairman of the Personnel Committee.

The Personnel Committee on Feb. 27 supported the new union contract and recommended passage of it to the full board.

The new contract was the first new pact between county government and its largest union since 2009. The county and union had been at impasse over a long period. The union membership previously ratified the contract prior to supervisors’ approval.

Howard had no specific reason when asked after the meeting why it took the county so long to hammer out a new deal with the general unit.

“We just couldn’t come to an agreement,” the supervisor said.

Union President Ron Briggs said after the contract’s approval the union will be “relieved and excited” that the latest general unit negotiations are now concluded. He said the union wasn’t settling on a contract, which shows no raises three of the five years.

“It is a good deal for us now with the economic factors,” Briggs said.

He said the union was able to get their raises moved “back one year” in the final agreement. He said State Public Employment Relations Board-assigned fact-finder Gordon Mayo’s Dec. 13 report recommended raises in years 2012 an 2013, but the union was able to get them for 2011 and 2012.

Elsewhere in the memorandum of agreement passed Monday, the county has the right to implement a two-week payroll lag – a one-week increase. The agreement calls for “floating holidays” to be used by the end of the fiscal year within which it is earned.

Another provision states caseworkers employed with the Department of Social Services assigned to carry a beeper on a holiday will receive another another day off. The day off must be used within 90 days after a holiday.

Employees hired after the ratification date of Monday may choose to participate in the county health insurance plan with coverage beginning 30 days from the date of hire.

Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, the county’s boot allowance will be $100 per year.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

By -