Bargaining Update: CONTRACT SETTLED TODAY

By admin / On / In Local 88

Today Chair Cogen and the head of county HR and Labor Relations all joined the Management bargaining team for the first time and by 2:00 PM we reached agreement on a contract.  Of course it will not be final unless AFSCME Local 88 members vote to ratify it. In addition to the articles we had already TA’d, the terms are as follows:

* 3-year contract

* Health care premium share rates stay the same for the life of the contract.  This was the number one priority we heard from members, and had been a key sticking point until today. We did not give. There will be no health care re-opener, something Management pushed for heavily.

* COLA
Year 1 – 1.2%
Year 2 – 0% and all money saved will fund Local 88 jobs (step increases remain intact)
Year 3 – CPI, minimum 1%, maximum 4%

* Overtime and double-time remain intact.

* County-wide bumping remains intact.

* Flexible scheduling. A Union – County flexible schedule committee will develop flexible schedule options (for example, 4/10’s, 9/80s, etc.).  Once this work is completed, each individual employee will have the right to request a flexible schedule and the request must be granted unless Management can demonstrate that operational needs do not allow it.

* $3.5 million in cuts to Management during the current biennium (July 2011 through June 2013) committed by Chair Cogen, to share the sacrifice.

* Deputy Medical Examiners are eligible for $1 per hour relief shift differential.

* Every member of the Corrections Technician classification will receive a one-step increase in pay upon ratification.

* Those required to wear safety toe boots (Roads and Fleet staff) get an additional $50 per year boot reimbursement.

* Language regarding environmentally sustainable practices in the workplace will go into the contract.  We may be the first local in the U.S. to have sustainability language in a collective bargaining agreement.

* Finally, no Local 88 position is subject to being made exempt under the Fair labor Standards Act.

The hardest thing for our bargaining team to agree to was the 0% COLA in year 2, but the money will offset cuts to our workers and the state cuts, as bad as they were this year, will be worse in the coming year.  We want to be able to save some jobs when the cuts are at their worst.  In order to get our agreement on the 0% the county offered, among other things, the employee entitlement to flexible scheduling, the 3 years of steady health care rates (what the majority of our members told us in surveys was the #1 priority), and the commitment to significantly reduce the size of management.  We felt their concessions were valuable enough to offset some of the pain of a freeze next year. Also, because Cogen made the effort to get a deal done today as we had asked him to and took the top priority takeaways off the table, Local 88 is more committed to joint problem solving as we face state and federal cuts.

We believe the flexible scheduling language in particular will prove to be a very good quality of life benefit for many of our members, and it is incredibly rare for an employer to agree to this kind of language.

A great deal of credit goes to you, the Local 88 members, who have been supporting the bargaining team by coming to rallies, putting up signs in your office, signing petitions and wearing ASCME t-shirts.  You made a big difference.  This year we put together the most wide-spread and effective Member Action Team (MAT) program Local 88 has ever seen.  Thank you so much to everyone who phone banked to members, attended rallies, made signs, Greened Out, took unity breaks, gave feedback, and supported your bargaining team by helping to force the County to move and ultimately get Cogen to the table.

The next step is to set a date for the ratification vote.  We will have several polling places across the county on several days (as we have in the past), to make ballots available to as many members as possible.  We will send out notification as soon as we have finalized the details.

Go 88!