Fulton County government’s largest employee union has accepted a fact finder’s recommendations that would provide its 250 members a four-year contract with a total of 4.5 percent in raises over its term but requires they pay more for health insurance.
Ronald Briggs, president of Civil Service Employee Association Local 1000, said the bargaining unit agreed to the fact finder’s recommendations in the interest of “moving the county forward and the members forward.”
Local 1000’s contract with the county expired Dec. 31, 2009. After failing to reach an agreement, it sought fact-finding from the state Public Employment Relations Board on Dec. 15, 2011. The fact finder, Gordon R. Mayo, issued his report a year later, on Dec. 13.
Briggs said that while the membership of Local 1000 “does not agree with what [Mayo] said, our membership has agreed to accept the fact-finding report as written and we look forward to a resolution of that matter.”
Mayo recommended that the county offer:
• No wage increases in 2010 and 2011.
• A 1 percent increase Jan. 1, 2012, and a 1 percent increase July 1, 2012.
• A 1 percent increase Jan. 1, 2013, and a 1.5 percent increase July 1, 2013.
All increases would be to the base salary of employees.
Mayo also said the county:
• Could implement a second one-week payroll lag on employees on July 1, but that employees be allowed to use up to five days of benefit time to cover the lag.
• Should increase the work boot allowance from $50 to $100, effective Jan. 1.
• Be allowed to require new hires to pay 50 percent of the cost of their individual health insurance plans during their first year of employment and 20 percent thereafter. Under the 2009 contract, which remains in effect, employees who select the individual health insurance plan pay nothing toward its costs; however, employees who have a family plan pay 27 percent to 30 percent of the cost.
Michael Gendron, then chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, issued a response to the fact finder’s report Dec. 21. The county’s response is to offer Local 1000 a five-year contract with 4.5 percent wage increases. The county would offer no wage increase in year five of the contract, which would be 2014.
The county also agreed with Mayo’s other minor recommended modifications. Further, it asked that Local 1000 withdraw an improper practice charge it filed against the county.
Gendron said he developed his response after consultations with the chairmen of the personnel and finance committees. Committees routinely hammer out legislation that the full board later votes on.
Briggs said Gendron’s response is not an offer and he hoped the full board would consider the fact finder’s report as the next step in the process. The Board of Supervisors did not discuss the fact finder’s report at its annual reorganizational meeting Wednesday. The board will hold its first formal meeting of the year Jan. 13.
Briggs said the fact finder’s report is non-binding and the Board of Supervisors could reject it.
“That puts us back to negotiating,” he said.
The board could also place a one-year legislative imposition on the agreement. This would apply only to the year 2010 of the agreement, leaving both parties to negotiate for 2011 and beyond.
In his report, Mayo praised the county for its “fiscal prudence” in controlling the growing cost of government. At the same time, he said, “there is no requirement its employees should bear an inordinate share of the burden.”
Mayo said the county could afford the wage increases because it had a large fund balance. Gendron said Mayo inaccurately calculated the amount in the fund balance and said the fact finder “does not have an understanding of fund balance and its relationship to budget.”
Still, Gendron said, the fact finder’s report “does offer some concepts that could form the basis of a new collective bargaining agreement acceptable to both sides.” He said the county’s proposals are not separable.