County board approves union contracts

Some of the 20 members of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors vote on two county union contracts Monday afternoon at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday ratified new contracts for two of its four unions, including county government’s largest union — the over 250-member Civil Service Employees Association General Unit.

Raises averaged about 2.5 percent over the years of the two new contracts.

Supervisors at the County Office Building approved new collective bargaining agreements for Local 818 General Unit, as well as the Fulton County Deputy Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association. Both contracts were approved 19-0, with one supervisor absent.

Supervisors met in separate executive sessions totalling more than 30 minutes with Albany attorney Elayne Gold on the CSEA contract, as well as Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino on the PBA contract.

The new General Unit contract amends wages effective retroactively to Jan. 1, 2018. The contract runs through 2021. The contract carries a 50-cent per hour wage hike each year. Percentages were not spelled out in the agreement, but county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said they coincide with those in the new non-union salary schedule. That schedule carries 2.6 percent annual raises from 2018 to 2021.

Local 818 President Lorrie Hanifan said Monday her union already approved the contract near the end of June.

“We’re very happy,” Hanifan said. “The negotiating team worked very hard on the contract.”

The General Unit’s last contract expired last Dec. 31. General Unit, Local 818, CSEA represents the largest of Fulton County government’s four public-sector unions. Members of the general unit include county clerical and office workers, and those working with the Department of Solid Waste, Department of Social Services and the Department of Highways and Facilities.

Other unions representing Fulton County government employees include the Nurses Unit; Fulton County Deputy Sheriff’s PBA, which consists of road patrol officers; and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Employees Alliance, which consists of members of the corrections staff at the county jail, and civilian Sheriff’s Department personnel such as 911 employees and the sheriff’s Civil Office staff.

The new sheriff’s PBA contract contains these raises: retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013 — 2 percent; retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014 — 2.5 percent; retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015 — 2.5 percent; and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016 — 3 percent.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Matthew VanValkenburgh, PBA president, said Monday he realizes his 23-member union will have to get back to the bargaining table. But he said the new agreement is a good one.

“It’s the contract we’ve been working on,” he said. “It’s fair.”

VanValkenburgh said it is “tough” for the sheriff’s office to keep up with the salaries of area police agencies. He said this agreement took six years.

“Its been a long time,” the union leader said.

Giardino in May had publicly mentioned the lack of a new PBA contract since the last one expired at the end of 2012, when he informed county supervisors of a “potential crisis” in manning his road patrol in the next six months to a year, due to continued shortages. At a committee meeting, the sheriff provided figures showing these starting salaries for area police officers: Fulton County Sheriff’s Department –$37,830; Gloversville Police Department — $44,637; Johnstown Police Department – $43,385; Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office — $49,915; and Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office — $52,068.

The last Fulton County General Unit collective bargaining agreement with Fulton County was approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 8, 2015. Those wage increases were “close” to 2.75 percent to 3 percent raises during the duration of the deal.

The Nurses Unit’s last three-year contract was approved on Dec. 14, 2015 and like the General Unit, the nurses’ contract also expired at the end of 2017. The last nurses deal provided 3 percent raises in 2015 and 2016, and 2.75 percent for 2017.

County supervisors on Nov. 13, 2017 ratified a new, retroactive four-year contract until 2019 with the sheriff’s alliance carrying 2 to 2.5 percent raises.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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