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IMPACT REACHED IN TALKS ON BLUE-COLLAR UNION CONTRACT

Niagara County and its 375-member blue-collar employees union have reached an impasse in contract talks.

Local 182 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the county will be filing a joint declaration of impasse with the state Public Employment Relations Board, according to county Labor Relations Manager Robert L. Schuman.

The union is working under terms of a contract that expired Dec. 31, 1998.

Schuman briefed the County Legislature on the situation behind closed doors Tuesday.Afterward, he said the main issues are wages and whether part-time employees will be allowed to "bid" for full-time job openings that may occur.

Local 182 President Leslie D. Price said the negotiations have moved fitfully throughout the year.

"We've been hung up from Day One," Price said.

Price said AFSCME is unhappy because it expects the recently completed contract with the county's white-collar union, Local 832 of the Civil Service Employees Association, to serve as a benchmark for its talks.

"We were never offered the same things as them," Price said.

He said CSEA members have been granted 4 percent wage increases in each year of a four-year contract, but he claimed the county has not offered AFSCME raises of more than 3 percent.

Price also said that CSEA members won 15-minute breaks but that the county has not offered to increase the current 10-minute breaks for AFSCME members.

As for job bidding, Price said it is of limited use for his union's part-timers. "There are no other jobs in their classification to bid on," he said.

Price said AFSCME is seeking job bidding across classifications. He said the county is seeking the right to have supervisors order drug testing for an employee whose behavior they view as suspicious, a provision to which CSEA agreed.

AFSCME represents about 120 part-time employees, primarily at Mount View Health Facility and in the Office for the Aging.

Its full-time members work at those agencies, plus the Public Works Department, the Water District, the Refuse Disposal District, the County Jail and the county golf course.

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