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Niagara Falls Water Board OKs raises for union workers

NIAGARA FALLS - More than 80 unionized employees will receive annual raises through 2024 under terms of a contract ratified Monday by the Niagara Falls Water Board.

The deal for three units of the United Steelworkers union includes pay increases averaging 1.5 percent per year. Workers also will receive lump sum bonuses of $10 for every week they've worked since their last contract expired in 2009, said James M. Perry, director of administrative services.

The contract also increases starting pay for new hires by $1 per hour in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Perry said the current starting pay for clerical workers, about $10.40 an hour, is not competitive with private-sector wages and has left the Water Board facing difficulty in filling openings.

Perry said the total cost of the wages, lump sums and medical benefits will be $7 million to $9 million, but he said it will be offset by savings in health insurance and other areas, so the deal won't produce a rate increase for consumers.

Perry said he is still negotiating new contracts with three building trades unions - the Electrical Workers, Operating Engineers and Painters - but the three units represent a total of fewer than 10 workers. The terms of Perry's hiring in February offered him a $3,000 raise on his $72,500 base pay if he completed new contracts with all unions by Dec. 31. The building trades also have been working without a contract since the end of 2009.


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