Erie County workers vote this week on a tentative contract giving them a 15 percent raise over five years in exchange for eliminating paid retiree health insurance for future hires, as well as requiring a 50 percent contribution for recent hires.

The Civil Service Employees Association, which represents almost 4,200 county employees, has been without a contract since 2006. The tentative pact would give employees $500 payments each year for 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2010, employees would get additional $750 in base pay. Beginning in 2011, they would be in line for raises of 3 percent annually through 2015 (here).

As the Buffalo News reports, “The CSEA local had vocally opposed givebacks,” but “over several months, negotiators found common ground.”

Among the concessions negotiators agreed to:

  • Employees would give up two paid holidays (Columbus Day and Election Day).
  • New employees would lose two personal days.
  • Employees would work full-days in July and August. They now can leave 30 minutes early and still get full pay.
  • New employees would pay 5 percent of health insurance costs and current employees will pay 15 percent of increases.

With an eye to the growing cost of retiree health insurance, County Executive Chris Collins negotiated a change creating three tiers of employees for retiree health care.

Those hired before Dec. 31, 2006, still would be allowed free health care in retirement. Those hired after Dec. 31, 2006–when the prior contract expired–would pay half of their retirement health care costs. Employees hired after the ratification of the new agreement, perhaps June 8, will not receive county health insurance in retirement.

CSEA Local 815 mailed ratification ballots to members, who must return them by Thursday (here).

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch, June 7, 2010

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