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Niagara County CSEA ratifies new contract

LOCKPORT – The largest union in Niagara County government has ratified a new contract, more than four years after the last one expired.

Members of the Civil Service Employees Association voted 353-302 in favor of a pact that runs through the end of 2019. The County Legislature is expected to vote on the deal Jan. 19.

CSEA President Sue Young attributed the ratification in Wednesday’s voting to the “enormous turnout of voters.” The white-collar union has about 800 members.

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said the contract gives the members lump-sum cash payments instead of percentage raises for 2013 and 2014. The lump sums will be $1,000 for each of the two years, Human Resources Director Peter P. Lopes said. The members received 2 percent retroactive raises for 2015, and 2 percent annual raises in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

On health insurance, newly hired employees will have to pay 10 percent of their premiums, Glatz said. Members hired since 2002 will have to pay $100 a month toward a family policy or $55 a month toward single coverage.

Lopes said those payments will rise to $120 for family coverage or $60 for single policies in 2017, and to $140 and $65 in 2018. Starting in 2019, all CSEA members will begin to pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums, except for those who joined the county in 2002 or earlier; they will not pay toward their insurance.

The CSEA ended up with terms almost identical to those in a contract approved last March by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the blue-collar union.

CSEA members demonstrated at several Legislature meetings in late 2015 to protest the lack of a contract and the financial ground they lost when the county froze annual “step increases” for three consecutive years. An impasse in contract talks was declared in 2013 after the unions balked at the county’s demand for workers to pay toward health care.