Schenectady County

Union contract to reduce Glendale Home costs

The union representing workers at Glendale Home has approved a contract expected to reduce operating

The union representing workers at Glendale Home has approved a contract expected to reduce operating costs at the county-owned nursing home by $1.2 million over three years.

The county Legislature is scheduled to approve the deal tonight. The contract covers 158 members of Local 1199, Service Employees International Union, consisting of kitchen staff, licensed practical nurses and certified nurse assistants. It would be retroactive to Jan. 1 and run through Jan. 1, 2013.

As part of the contract, the Glendale employees would receive a 1.5 percent raise this year and in 2012 and no raise in 2013. They would, however, receive a bonus of 1.25 percent, which would not be added to their base salary. The raises and bonuses total $584,000 over three years.

The contract’s savings come at a time when the county Legislature is moving ahead with plans to construct a new nursing home on Hetcheltown Road. The 200-bed skilled nursing facility is expected to cost $51 million to construct and is projected to open in October 2013. The county will demolish the Glendale Home after the new facility opens.

The new facility is expected to operate more efficiently than the current Glendale Home, a hodgepodge of several buildings, some dating back to the 1930s. The county is paying $4 million to subsidize Glendale’s operations this year, double the amount taxpayers paid in 2010. In past years, the subsidy has approached $9 million. The facility’s annual budget is nearly $30 million. The subsidy comes from the county property tax levy, which totals $64.4 million this year.

Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner called the SEIU agreement groundbreaking, saying it will help make Glendale Home more competitive.

He said the contract creates a two-tiered wage and benefit system for Glendale Home employees that will reduce the cost of new hires there by 17.5 percent compared to current employees — a savings of $12,000 per new employee.

A county-provided cost chart shows the average Glendale employee earns about $40,000 in wages plus $30,000 in benefits, for a total of slightly more than $70,000. Under the proposed contract, the average new employee hired after July 27 would earn an average of $36,000 in salary and $22,000 in benefits, for a total of $58,000. The county expects to save $397,000 over three years through the two-tier system, based on 10 percent turnover in staff at the nursing home.

In return for the wage increase and bonus, Glendale employees would have to pay 20 percent of premiums for family health plan coverage, up from 15 percent, and would become part of a new health care plan that is 22 percent less expensive than their current plan.

These moves will generate more than $400,000 in savings.

Also, the contract reduces the afternoon and night differentials by 3 percent and the weekend differential by 5 percent for new employees, for savings totaling about $5,000.

Local 1199 is the second union to sign off on a new contract with the county. In June, the 750-member local of the Civil Service Employees Association approved a two-year contract with similar raises and health care savings.

This contract also established a two-tiered wage system, but only for employees at Glendale Home.

The last bargaining unit, representing 170 members of the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, has yet to begin negotiations. Its contract expired Dec. 31.

Non-bargaining members of county management will receive terms similar to those awarded to the bargaining units.

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