JOHNSTOWN - A state fact-finder is recommending Fulton County union workers receive salary increases in 2012 and 2013.
The fact-finder recently issued his final report on Fulton County government's impasse with its 285-member General Unit union, and the Board of Supervisors chairman agreed with several of the recommendations.
Among recommendations in state Public Employment Relations Board-assigned fact-finder Gordon Mayo's Dec. 13 report is a suggested salary structure to reach a new contract. The last contract for the General Unit of Local 818 of the Civil Service Employees Association expired at the end of 2009.
Mayo recommended the county enter into a retroactive four-year agreement with the General Unit.
He called for no wage increases for 2010 and 2011, and a 1 percent increase for 2012. He recommends increasing salaries 1 percent at the beginning of 2013 and bringing that raise to 1.5 percent at the middle of 2013.
"CSEA members are taxpayers too, and while their taxes are going up, their salaries have remained stagnant, which is a double whammy," Mayo wrote. "While I commend the county for its fiscal prudence, there is no requirement that its employees should bear an inordinate share of the burden."
As a response to the report, Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael F. Gendron issued a Dec. 21 memo to Board of Supervisors members. In accordance with Civil Service Law, the chairman is required to formally respond by submitting his recommendations to his board on how to settle the dispute.
Gendron's response to Mayo's report agreed with most of the salary recommendations, but Gendron also called for a five-year agreement with 2014 as the final year, in which he suggests no wage increase for that year.
Local 818 President Ron Briggs said today his union is "going to counter Gendron's proposal," including the chairman's call for a fifth year of the contract with no pay increase.
"In addition, approval of any successor collective-bargaining agreement should be contingent upon the union's withdrawal of the improper-practice charge it filed against the county," Gendron wrote.
He was referring to the union filing an improper labor practices charge against the county after Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan sent a Sept. 20, 2011, memo to county department heads, which then was copied to union members. In the memo, Fagan, as chairman of the supervisors' Personnel Committee at the time, urged union members to conduct a formal "membership vote" on county management's proposal.
CSEA Regional President Kathy Garrison a month later termed the memo "disgusting" and said it's "unacceptable" the county would try to deal directly with the membership while negotiations are in progress.
Briggs said the union might be "willing to drop" the improper practices charge.
Gendron's memo concluded: "I believe that the recommendations I outlined in this memorandum strike a reasonable balance for our employees and taxpayers. Such an agreement would also fit in with the Board of Supervisors' budget planning goal for stability through the end of 2014."
During its meeting Thursday, the Board of Supervisors went into a roughly 40-minute closed-door executive session for the listed reason of "collective bargaining." The board met with County Attorney Arthur C. Spring but took no action toward a new General Unit contract.
After the meeting, Stead said union negotiations continue toward a new contract.
Briggs said the county now is required to conduct a public hearing, at which time the union can present its side of a response to Mayo's report.
Elsewhere in the fact-finder's report, Gendron said he concurred with several other recommendations toward settling the dispute. They included Mayo's recommendation that an additional week of lag payroll begin July 1, 2013.
Mayo recommended the union's request for a $50 boot allowance increase be granted retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, but Gendron wants it effective Jan. 1, 2013.
Gendron agrees with Mayo's recommendation to endorse the county's proposal that future new employees who select the individual health insurance plan contribute 20 percent of premium cost.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.