Blue-collar workers in Orchard Park have reached an agreement with the town for a four-year contract that will take the town through the end of 2008.
The contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2005, when the last contract expired.
The key to the contract, said Town Board members, was an agreement to create a health insurance committee with representatives from the union and Town Board, as well as other town unions.
"We have language in there that says they will come back to the table with all the other factions of town government and negotiate to get under one carrier," said Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy.
Moving all the town's workers to one health insurance carrier has been a goal of the Town Board for some time and was one of the major issues in negotiations. The town has said it will slow the explosion in health insurance costs.
"We would eventually like them to embrace having one carrier," said Councilman David Kaczor. "It's very difficult when you have three unions that represent three distinct groups."
Travers Murphy said the goal is for the Police Benevolent Association and the town's white-collar union to join the committee, so health coverage can be standardized among the town's workers.
Toby Zintz, president of Orchard Park's blue-collar CSEA unit, said the contract was approved Wednesday afternoon by a 25-2 vote. It met the unit's goal of maintaining health coverage, Zintz said.
"The majority has Traditional Blue coverage and wanted to keep it," Zintz said. "We worked it out so Traditional Blue was more affordable for the town."
The contract also includes 3 percent raises for each year. By the end of the contract, pay will range from $19.58 an hour for laborers in all areas to $24.30 an hour for mechanics.
As far as revising health insurance further, Zintz said, "If the town has some other ideas, we're waiting to hear them."
Kaczor said the contract was negotiated by the Town Board as a whole after Councilman Stanley Jemiolo Jr., the board's representative on the negotiating team, was defeated in his bid for re-election in November.
The negotiations had apparently been completed last year, but the Town Board rejected the deal.