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Elma's Teamster pact has 3% hikes

Elma town employees who belong to the Teamsters will get a 3 percent salary increase in each of the next three years and an increased clothing allowance, under a contract ratified this week by the Town Board.

In exchange, the members of Local 264, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, agreed to a health-provider change from BlueCross BlueShield to Independent Health, which is expected to save the town a minimum of $62,000 to $92,500 a year.

The town will fund an annual debit card for health care deductibles for each worker of $1,500 for a single person and $3,000 for family coverage.

Union and town officials agreed that the deductible plan will not go below those debit card rates during the term of the contract and that any increases in monthly employee contributions (pretax dollars) toward health insurance -- $105.35 for a family, $98.61 for two people and $38.91 for a single person -- will be paid by the town.

The town is expecting that most workers won't need more than the deductible amount, but that if they do, the union and the town will pay the difference.

The new contract, which also eliminates the 50-cent salary increase cap on hourly salaries, runs from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31, 2014.

There are 16 workers represented by the Teamsters in the town Sanitation, Water and Highway departments and the town transfer station. The town has a work force of about 50 full- and part-time employees.

Also as part of the new contract, the town will hire a truck driver to replace the motor equipment operator at the transfer station.

Councilman Michael P. Nolan, a member of the negotiating committee, said that the contract was "not a lavish one" and that other workers picked up the slack when two workers were not replaced.

Councilman Dean S. Puleo disagreed. While praising the employees as "hardworking, dedicated and deserving of every dollar they receive," he questioned the deal.

"I don't want the salary cap removed or a 3 percent salary raise," he said. "The salary cap was designed two years ago to stem the gap between hourly and salaried employees. Taking it away just makes the gap wider and wider.

"No one else is getting this kind of contract."