Schoharie County employees will receive a 1 percent raise this year under a four-year contract approved by the county Board of Supervisors.
The Schoharie County CSEA Local 848 represents 274 full-time and 13 part-time employees, according to Treasurer William Cherry, a member of the county’s labor management team.
Employees worked off an expired contract from 2012 up until the new contract’s recent approval.
Negotiations stumbled when disagreements among members of the county’s personnel committee led to an abrupt change in committee assignments, then a court challenge.
New committee assignments were made for this year. A single meeting was held between management and union membership, at which a deal was struck, Cherry said Monday.
A copy of the new contract was not immediately available Monday.
Cherry said there are no retroactive pay hikes for 2012 but employees will receive a 1 percent increase for this year that will cost the county $111,286.
Although this increased cost was not included in the 2013 budget, the county is receiving more revenue than it expected as it drew up its budget for this year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to pay the county’s costs for boarding inmates in other counties provided about $200,000 in unanticipated revenue, Cherry said, more than enough to cover the raises.
Union members will see a 1.5 percent pay increase in 2014 and a 2 percent raise in 2015, the final year of the contract.
The agreement includes some financial help for the county: Employees hired after today will receive less sick and vacation time than those already employed.
New hires will also contribute more towards their health insurance than existing employees, similar to the state’s tier system.
“It’s trying to cut down on future costs,” Cherry said.
Barbara Schaffer, president of the CSEA Local 848, said in an email Monday that union members considered the raises fair.
The practice of reducing some benefits for new hires, she said, is being employed in many union contracts today.
Cherry said the package should help boost morale in the county, which saw numerous job cuts in 2011 just before the flooding disaster.
“The morale has been very low and many people have been concerned about whether they would have a job or not. What this does is it solidifies the relationship between the county and the employees,” he said.
The county still has to address other union contracts and then look at pay raises for non-union workers, Cherry said.
The Schoharie County Road Patrol Union, consisting of 12 part-time and 15 full-time employees, is considering an offer with provisions similar to the CSEA’s new contract but it hasn’t yet been ratified, Cherry said.