October 23, 2014

Commissioners agree to two union deals

Awaiting two more

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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ARENAC COUNTY — The Arenac County Board of Commissioners and county employees have agreed on two union contracts, and are reviewing two more.

Chairman of the Arenac County Commissioners, Mike Snyder, said the union contracts that were agreed upon were with 81st District Court employees and personnel who work directly for the county.

Snyder added that the contracts between the county and the Teamsters and Steelworkers unions are still being negotiated.

“That is a process that has been going on for over a year now,” he said. “We have been close to agreements in the past, but for the most part we have been dealing with a lot of back and forth.”

Negotiation consultant Bill Borushko said the Steelworkers contract is being held up by difficulty finding an agreement on paid time off.

“The county has come forward and stated that they would offer more in terms of health coverage in lieu of paid time off,” he said. “The county feels more paid time off is a little excessive.”

Borushko said a state-appointed fact finder will issue a recommendation for both sides at a fact-finding session Oct. 3.

“The recommendation will be a non-bias decision from the fact finder,” he said. “Both sides will then have 60 days to negotiate.”

Borushko said the major hold up between the county and the Teamsters is health care.

“Right now, the county offers full-family care, and that will not change for those who are already currently employed,” he said. “But it is more cost effective for a switch to single (person coverage). If they (Teamsters) want more coverage, they would have to go out on their own.”

In March, agreements made in union negotiations included 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.

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