JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County government and its 285-member General Unit union will meet with a state-assigned fact-finder Oct. 24, although the union head isn't sure it will lead to a new contract.
"I am not optimistic," Local 818, Civil Service Employees Association President Ronald Briggs said Wednesday. "I think we are quite willing to explore options."
Briggs also said his union is "absolutely" willing, if it has too, to accept no salary increases in some of the new contract years.
"We understand, too, the county is not rolling in money," Briggs said.
Both sides are at impasse and the union's last contracts expired at the end of 2009. An initial fact-finding session with state Public Employment Relations Board-assigned fact-finder Gordon Mayo was conducted July 13. Both sides confirmed this week a second fact-finding session is set for Oct. 24 in the city.
The county Board of Supervisors on Sept. 10 passed a local law setting salaries for non-union county department heads and elected officials in a five-year deal. They were given 1.5 percent to 2 percent increases the next two years, but no increase in wages from 2010-12.
"It appears to me [county supervisors] were just making the raises official for non-bargaining officials," Briggs said. "Obviously, they can give management whatever they want, whenever they want."
Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan, chairman of the board's Finance Committee, said Wednesday that other than setting the next fact-finding session, there has been no other progress in talks.
"I'm not sure if it's up to us anymore," he commented.
However, Fagan said the county wants to get the General Unit contract done - as well as other upcoming union negotiations - as the board looks to finalize the 2013 county budget.
"We would like to have everybody nailed down," Fagan said.
The county is gearing up to begin negotiating with the two Fulton County Sheriff's Department unions. They are the Fulton County Deputy Sheriff's Police Benevolent Association and the Fulton County Sheriff's Office Employees Alliance.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.