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Council OKs pact with CSEA unit

Members of the city's white-collar union will receive a 2.5 percent raise for each of the next four years under a new four-year contract approved by the Common Council.

Under the agreement between the city and members of Unit 7692 of Local 832, Civil Service Employees Association, union members have the option to choose a less-expensive health insurance plan and see half the savings applied to a health reimbursement account.

The provision saves money for both the city and union members, said Jeffrey N. Mis, administrative assistant to Mayor Lawrence V. Soos and a member of the city's negotiating team.

"That's kind of the first step to try and make inroads on the cost of health insurance," Mis said.

New city employees already pay 25 percent of health insurance costs, he said.

The contract begins with this year and runs through 2010. It also includes the addition of a hearing aid plan, reimbursement for work footwear and modifications to sick-time provisions, said Larry Kuebler, president of the city's CSEA unit.

The biggest issue was union members didn't lose any insurance coverage, Kuebler said.

"I thought it was a pretty good contract for the times," said Kuebler, a 36-year employee of the city's Parks Department.

Union membership overwhelmingly approved the pact, he said.

The union had been without a contract since the beginning of the year. The new contract is retroactive to the start of 2007.

The white-collar union, which consists of more than 100 full-time employees, is the city's largest union. It includes most clerical workers in various city departments, including the Parks, Engineering, Water, Waste Water and Signal departments, and the offices of city clerk, city treasurer, city accountant, community development and code enforcement, as well as Police and Fire dispatchers, Mis said.

The contract was negotiated over 10 meetings between the city's bargaining team and CSEA negotiators between Feb. 28 and Aug. 10.

The city is currently negotiating with representatives of the city's department head union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union. That's the only city union without a contract, Mis said.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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