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126 Schenectady employees would see 2 percent raise if contract gets city's OK

126 Schenectady employees would see 2 percent raise if contract gets city's OK

City Council committee will vote Tuesday
126 Schenectady employees would see 2 percent raise if contract gets city's OK
Schenectady Water Department workers repair a water main break on Millard Street in November 2016.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

A proposed four-year contract for more than 100 city employees is up for a vote during the City Council’s committee meetings on Tuesday.

Adam Armour, president of the AFSCME Local 1037A union, said it’s the best contract he has seen for the approximately 126 employees he represents in the last decade.

The contract will give employees a 2 percent raise in each of the four years covered by the contract, including a retroactive 2 percent raise for 2017.

Armour said the overall impact of the contract could be between $500,000 to $600,000 in additional money over the four-year period of 2017 to 2020.

“We fought hard,” Armour said.

AFSCME is the second-largest employee union in the city and covers various departments such as Water, Parks and Wastewater, according to Armour.

The contract includes an extra $2 an hour for the months of December through March for Waste Department employees for working during the cold.

Armour said the contract also increases longevity pay by $100 for the last two years of the contract, which includes 2019 and 2020. So, anyone with five years of service will make an additional $900 annually in longevity pay and an employee with 20 years of service will make $1,700 in longevity pay.

Seasonal workers, who are part-time workers hired a certain number of days a year, will receive an extra 75 cents per hour, bringing their hourly pay to $10.70. 

Armour said the increase was due to the minimum wage rising from $9 per hour to $9.70 — a 7.7 percent increase — following changes made by the state last year.

This is the first year minimum wage will go up. It will continue to increase by 70 cents each Dec. 31 until it hits $12.50 per hour by 2020.

City employees covered by AFSCME make between $17 to $21 an hour, according to Armour.

City Council members said the believe the contract is a good one. 

Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said she believes the pay raises for employees are “only fair” after the union went the previous year without a contract.

“It’s never good when employees go without a contract,” Perazzo said. “Especially for an extended period of time.”

Councilman John Polimeni praised the contract for including additional money for employees required to work in the cold. He said all of the employees he’s spoken with are fans of the negotiated contract.

While Armour is pleased with the new contract, he does have some concerns over staffing levels.

He said there are some shortages in the Parks, Water and Waste departments he would like to see addressed. Ideally, he’d like to see 15 additional employees hired.

Armour, who said it’s been two to three years since the city has been fully staffed, said he did bring up staffing levels during the labor management meetings and was told the city would be posting more jobs. However, he hasn’t seen any movement with that.

“I think the city is holding back on jobs they should be filling,” Armour said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy did not return requests for comment on Monday.

Councilman John Mootooveren, who said he was pleased with the proposed contract for city employees, said while he would like for the city fully staffed, he questioned where the money would come from to pay new employees.

Mootooveren said he hopes the city will be able to add more employees over time while the Rivers Casino and Resort builds up business.

“We try every year to increase staffing the best we can, and at the same time maintain services and not increase taxes,” Mootooveren said.

The contract will be voted on by the council’s Finance Committee, chaired by Polimeni, during committee meetings at 5:30 p.m Tuesday at City Hall. 

If approved, the contract will go before the City Council during its regular meeting on Jan. 22.

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