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CSEA approves tentative deal with Erie County

Erie County government employees’ largest union – whose members have been working without a contract since Dec. 31, 2006 – has reached tentative agreement with the county on a contract.

Union leaders discussed details of the contract proposal with members of Local 815, Civil Service Employees Association, on Wednesday afternoon. Local 815 President Denise Szymura described the tentative deal as “a very fair and equitable compromise” between the union and the county.

“The tentative agreement takes into consideration the difficult financial situation in Erie County, and it includes shared sacrifice by both sides,” Szymura said.

County Commissioner of Labor Relations David A. Palmer noted that Wednesday’s tentative agreement is the fourth one that the administration has reached with the union since County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz took office in January 2012.

Last May, the membership rejected a five-year deal with the county that would have given workers a total of 11.5 percent in wage increases over a five-year period, but also would have required current county workers to pay 7.5 percent of their own health care premiums starting in 2017, while newly hired workers would have had to pay 15 percent of the cost.

“This is a shorter term deal with the union, and we’re looking to, hopefully, get this behind us,” Palmer said. “From a structural standpoint, this agreement fixes some of the longer-term financial issues that concern the county with respect to new employees. That would be the major driving force here.”

The tentative agreement reached Wednesday covers the period from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2015. It calls for 2 percent wage increases in 2014 and 2015. If the agreement is ratified when members vote Feb. 13, newly hired workers will be required to pay 15 percent of their own health insurance costs. The union will hold a series of informational meetings during the week prior to the ratification vote.