JOHNSTOWN - Both sides negotiating new contracts for two Fulton County government unions are eager to finalize them soon before the process heads to state fact-finding next month.
Union meetings are scheduled for today and next week in Johnstown.
The last contracts for the 285-member General Unit union of Local 818, Civil Service Employees Association, and the smaller Nurses Unit union expired at the end of 2009. After 2 1/2 years without new contracts, both sides are headed to state-assigned fact-finding in July. But both the county and its unions want to secure new contracts before that happens.
Local 818 President Ronald Briggs said Wednesday that the Nurses Unit, made up of nurses employed by the county, is scheduled to meet with county management today.
He said the larger General Unit is scheduled to meet June 27. That union consists of a variety of unionized county employees, such as clerks, support staff and workers from the Social Services, Highway and Facilities, and Solid Waste departments.
Briggs labeled these latest sessions as important "pre-fact-finding" negotiating meetings.
He said the hope is to negotiate final draft contracts at these sessions before a previously slated meeting the unions will have in mid-July with a state Public Employment Relations Board official. PERB-assigned fact-finder Gordon Mayo of East Greenbush is now involved in the negotiating process.
"We're hoping for a settlement before we have to get there [for the PERB] meeting," Briggs said.
Finance Committee Chairman Greg Fagan alerted the Board of Supervisors last week of the new round of bargaining sessions.
He said Thursday he also hopes new contracts can be resolved before the unions have to go before the fact-finder.
"I think both sides would like to get something in place," said Fagan. "It's been three years since we had a contract."
Fagan said the fact-finding session, tentatively set for July 13, is the "last step," and if both sides can't come up with deals, the state may step in on its own terms.
"I think both sides are anxious to work out something," Fagan said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.