September 21, 2014

Arenac County Commissioners continue discussions with unions

Implement personal time off for United Steelworkers union

By Matt Keeton
Staff Writer | reporter@ogemawherald.com
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STANDISH — While agreements have been reached with three of five unions representing Arenac County employees, discussions continue with the Teamsters and United Steelworkers, according to Arenac County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Snyder.

Snyder said agreements made in union negotiations include a one-year agreement with the Governmental Employees Union, to which employees in 911 dispatch belong, with a zero-percent pay increase; an agreement with the Police Officers Association of Michigan for two years, with a zero-percent pay increase the first year and a one-percent pay increase the second year; and an agreement with the Chemical Workers Union, to which some employees of the courts belong, to roll over its previous contract.

Snyder said the commissioners are trying to reach somewhat similar agreements with each of the unions.

“If nothing else, it is our intent to stay as consistent as possible with all of the bargaining units,” Snyder said.

According to Snyder, commissioners are continuing negotiations with the Teamsters, to which most of the county department heads belong.

“We are negotiating (with the Teamsters),” Snyder said. “We are still in the process of scheduling negotiations.”

Snyder said the commissioners were unable to reach an agreement with the Steelworkers Union, which covers most clerical positions in county offices, even after bringing in a mediator.

While the commissioners and Steelworkers Union have been able to reach agreements on some things, there are certain areas that remain unresolved, such as personal days and sick days.

As a result, Snyder said, the commissioners decided unanimously at their March 15 meeting to lump all personal days, sick days, vacation days, etc., into a single group, labeled as personal time off.

“It’s a sticky area where we have been unable to get an agreement,” Snyder said. “We are no longer discriminating between personal days and vacation days. Any days that they have off are lumped into this personal time.”

Snyder said the grouping of personal time off has been done with the other unions with which agreements have been reached.

“We are going for implementation of the PTO (personal time off) in all groups,” Snyder said. “It stops a whole lot of arguing and bickering over the justification of absences. We’re not forcing the employees to categorize the type of absence.”

Snyder said the next step in negotiations with the Steelworkers Union will be to bring in a fact-finder, appointed by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, who will look at the negotiations and point out relevant facts, to help resolve issues such as the amount of personal time the employees will get. He said that should bring an end to negotiations with the Steelworkers.

“After fact-finding, you end up with whatever the fact-finder comes up with,” Snyder said.

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