“We brought the tentative agreement to our membership and they have spoken by voting 1,296 no votes to 570 yes votes,” said Civil Service Employee Assoc.'s Erie County Local President Joan Bender.
CSEA-represented county employees have been working without a contract since the previous contract expired in 2006.
“I am disappointed that this tentative agreement has been rejected. This is the third time that a tentative agreement has been rejected by this bargaining unit, once under the prior administration and now twice with my administration. I will be discussing next actions with Director of Labor Relations David Palmer and others, ” said Erie County Exec. Mark Poloncarz, in a prepared statement.
The agreement did not include CSEA-represented workers at Erie County Medical Center. Those workers recently ratified a separate addendum to the contract.
WBEN WEB EXTRA: From CSEA SEE THE PROPOSED CONTRACT CHANGES VOTED DOWN
| See The UNION's LABOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT PLANS
Members of the union representing Erie County employees have been voting for the past few days on the proposed five year contract. The ballots will be counted Friday, and both the county's fiscal watchdog and the leader of the union are looking at the good and not so good.
CSEA Local 815's Joan Bender says members will get raises of 11.5 percent spread out over the five years of the contract. This is significant, says Bender. "They haven't had a contract or a raise in seven years, and the reason why they got the raise was because they saved the county $18 million," she explains. Just like the last contract, Bender says the new contract saves the county money.
But Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw has some concerns about that. "There is an estimated $21 million cost taxpayers will be ultimately footing the bill for," says Mychajliw. "A lot of our employees have not had raises since 2006, and with raises every year, that's going to have a negative impact on the budget."
Some perks are being given up as part of this contract. One of them is acupuncture and massage benefits are being removed. "We're proud to have sounded the alarm on this," says Mychajliw. Bender concedes the loss of that benefit, "but the co pay for all medications, and doctor visits is going to be more."
Another key concern for Mychajliw is the health care for life for retirees, which will end in July 2014. "Our worry could be a mass retirement and taxpayers will end up paying for that health care for retirees," says Mychajliw.
Bender estimates 400 to 600 union members are eligible for lifetime health care upon retirement. "We do worry that could effect our services and how we provide them for a brief time," she notes.