SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- Schenectady County on Tuesday settled a labor contract retroactive to 2017 with the union representing the sheriff's road patrol deputies and their supervisors.
The settlement with the road patrol bargaining unit, which includes 16 full-time deputies and supervisors and six part-time officers covers four years, 2017 through 2020, with three of the years being retroactive.
The agreement calls for members of the union, which have already ratified the deal, to receive 2 percent pay increases each year. The contract also increases the payment a deputy receives if they don't take a meal break during their shift, and increases the number of vacation days an officer can accumulate from year to year.
The county is in turn getting some savings on health insurance costs by adopting the Pro-Act specialty drug co-pay assistance program and by increasing the co-payment on emergency room visits from $50 to $100.
The contract also includes new penalties for deputies who don't report to work without explanation or arrive late, and includes a new rule that a deputy can't work more than 20 consecutive hours -- down from the past practice that allowed up to 24 consecutive hours.
County Attorney Chris Gardner said the negotiations were delayed because the previous road patrol contract went to the state Public Employee Relations Board, which issued a binding arbitration award in 2018. New negotiations couldn't start until that process ended. "That slowed us down in the negotiations," Gardner said.
This time, the negotiation was much smoother, officials said. "All parties during the collective bargaining process fairly and respectfully worked diligently to negotiate this contract," County Manager Rory Fluman wrote in a memo to legislators.
The wage increases are in keeping with the contract settlement the county reached with the jail guards' union last July, and the county's last contract with the Civil Service Employees Association, signed in 2018. That agreement expired on Dec. 31, meaning the county is again starting negotiations with the CSEA.
"We just started negotiations with them last November or December. We're working on that," Gardner said.
The county will also be sitting down with the union representing nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and kitchen staff at the Glendale Home Nursing Home, Gardner said. The goal is to end a two-tier wage system that has employees hired after 2012 earning less than more experienced employees. The goal is to help the facility in Glenville address staff recruitment and retention issues.
"That needs to be addressed," Gardner said. "We're concerned about staffing and recruiting and trying to retain good people."
Just Tuesday night, several family members of Glendale Home residents came to the Legislature, complaining about patient care issues that seemed to be related to staffing issues.