Union raises agreed

CSEA Local 829 members employed by Montgomery County will receive 3 percent annual pay increases thr

CSEA Local 829 members employed by Montgomery County will receive 3 percent annual pay increases through 2012 under an agreement with the county.

The county Board of Supervisors’ finance committee is scheduled today to consider an appropriation amending the 2009 tentative budget to accommodate a new contract that would start next year.

The new contract is slated for final approval at the end of this month, and is expected to cost the county approximately $450,000 more next year.

Changes in the contract include an increase in college credit hours for which employees are reimbursed and increases in a uniform allowance, sick leave credit for retirees and a new dental plan expected to save money for those with a family plan, according to a draft of the agreement.

Union members will see a $5 increase in their co-pay under the county’s self-insured health plan, bringing the cost to $20.

“I’m very happy with what we negotiated. Our team did a fantastic job and I think the county was fair to us,” Civil Service Employees Association Local 829 President Eddie Russo said Monday.

Russo said of roughly 255 employees, 143 voted in favor of the contract and 62 were against it.

Russo said scheduled raises for employees extending for the next four years is heartening in a time of economic stress.

Fulton County recently settled a one-year contract with employees for a 2.75 percent pay increase, including a $200 increase in base salary, Russo said.

“We feel we did good at this time, with the way the economy is. I felt it was very good having a four-year contract,” Russo said.

Longevity payments are also set for an increase to 1 percent for the first four years of service and 1.4 percent after four years.

Using the Delta dental plan, Russo said, people on the family plan will save an estimated $650 per year, but those with individual plans will see an increase in payments.

The county is also changing its vision plan from the CSEA Platinum 12 Vision Plan to the EYEMED Vision plan, provided to employees at no charge.

The county board’s personnel committee reviewed numerous options for vision, dental and other benefits to lower costs while maintaining services, committee chairman Thomas DiMezza said.

“We really didn’t look at the cheapest plan, we looked at the most economical plan where they would keep the same benefits yet we would save some money,” DiMezza said.

DiMezza said he is hoping to see additional negotiations in upcoming months to seek more savings on prescription drugs.

Since the county started offering the CanaRx mail order prescription plan, about 35 percent of eligible employees have taken advantage of it, DiMezza said.

It costs the county more money when employees buy prescription drugs at local pharmacies, and DiMezza said an additional co-pay for those who do so is being considered as an incentive to use the CanaRx plan.

“It’s a lot more expensive buying it locally. If we had 60 or 70 percent participation, you would be saving an enormous amount of money,” DiMezza said.

DiMezza said the county is nearing $1 million in savings since it started using the CanaRx prescription plan in the summer of 2006.

Categories: Schenectady County

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