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OTB board approves union contract, raises for administrators

BATAVIA – Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors on Thursday approved a new contract with supervisory and non-supervisory OTB branch union employees through 2017 and granted average raises of 3.5 percent to corporate and gaming administrative staff for 2016.

However, the company is continuing negotiations with Batavia Downs Gaming union employees, who have been working under terms of a pact that expired at the end of 2013.

“We’ve received a counter offer from the (gaming) union and we’re going to counter that. We’re not far off, and hopefully that will be accepted,” said William R. White, vice president for administration.

About 200 gaming employees and another 150 branch employees are members of the United Public Service Employees Union.

Sean S. Schiano, director of branch operations, said the two-year contract with the branch segment of the union gives both managers and rank-and-file employees a 2 percent raise for 2015, retroactive for current employees; a 1.75 percent raise for this year, retroactive to Jan. 1; and a 2.625 percent raise for 2017.

Employees will pay $400 per year for a single health insurance plan and $1,000 per year for a family plan, he added.

“This is very fair,” Schiano said. “Branches are losing money but we are still able to give a raise to our employees – many of them who have been with the company for 20 to 30 years.”

He said the rates of the new contract for branch employees match the corporate employees’ rates.

On the issue of a pay hike for the 125 corporate and gaming administrators, the board voted 15-1 for the 3.5 percent average increase, with Philip C. Barnes of Schuyler County casting the no vote.

“As a county legislator, I’d be a hypocrite if I went with a percentage higher than what sheriff’s department employees and other county workers are getting,” he said. “I think we should cap people’s salary increases at 2 percent.”

The raises increase this year’s salaries for the corporation’s officers to the following:

• Michael D. Kane, president and chief executive officer, $183,555;

• Henry F. Wojtaszek, general counsel and secretary, $124,264;

• Jacquelyne A. Leach, comptroller, $120,967;

• Michael P. Nolan, executive vice president and chief operating officer, $102,096;

• White, $95,750.

In other developments, the board:

• Voted in favor of the sale of a parlor/regional office on Ridge Lea Road in Amherst for $2.5 million to hotel developer Armiri LLC of Painted Post.

“The sale is in the best interests of the company and Erie County as well as a substantial benefit to our municipalities,” said Kane, noting that it will enable WROTB to consolidate operations at nearby parlors on Wehrle Drive, Delaware Avenue and River Road.

• Unanimously re-elected Richard D. Bianchi of Monroe County) and Thomas P. Wamp of Livingston County as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, for 2016.

• Approved a contractual payment of 2 percent of the handle to Finger Lakes Race Track for 2016-17, the spending of up to $29,000 for postage meter rental for this year, and a $50,000 contract with a courier service for purchase and delivery of daily racing forms to two OTB parlors in Buffalo.

• Heard a report that the on-track racing handle at Batavia Downs decreased by 4.7 percent last year but, overall, revenues were up by 8 percent due to simulcasting and Internet wagering.

It also was announced that the post time will be moved up to 6:15 p.m. when racing returns on July 25.