County ratifies contract with Steelworkers
By Tim Barnum
News Editor | email@example.com
WEST BRANCH — The Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners ratified a three-year contract with the county Steelworkers bargaining unit Oct. 11.
Labor Relations Consultant Bill Borushko said the contract includes salary increases for the next three years. In 2012-13, the wages for Steelworkers members will go up 1.5 percent. The following year employees will receive a 1.25-percent increase.
Borushko said the union employees will also receive a 1-percent raise Oct. 1, 2014, and a 1-percent raise April 1, 2015, per the contract.
According to Borushko, the contract brings the Steelworkers in line with other employee bargaining units who have ratified a contract. It takes into account the hard cap provisions of Public Act 152, which requires government employees to contribute to their health insurance, and also brings the Steelworkers into the county’s Blue Cross Network plan that other unions have.
“The Steelworkers have the exact same health care,” he said.
Borushko said at the Oct. 11 meeting that other changes were also agreed upon between the two sides in negotiations. He said part-time transit employees in the union have to maintain a regular work schedule to receive overtime pay, reassigned employees have 10 days to demonstrate the necessary skills for the new position instead of 30; and unused sick days will not be paid out if an employee is terminated for just cause.
The new contract also enrolls part-time employees in the Michigan Employees Retirement System (MERS) pension program and limits the number of times the county will pay for physical examinations for transit employees, Borushko told the board.
Board Chairman John West said he appreciated the Steelworkers employees’ willingness to work with Borushko and the board’s negotiating committee.
“This was a tough contract for them,” he said. “And we just appreciate the opportunity to be able to sit down and work it out with them.”
The Steelworkers and the county had a tentative agreement prior to the ratification of the new contract, Borushko said. He added the union ratified the contract Oct. 10. Prior to the Steelworkers ratifying, the county and union extended the old contract through Oct. 15, according to Borushko.
The Steelworkers, representing county clerical employees, maintenance and custodian personnel and transit employees, is the county’s largest bargaining unit with 32 employees, Borushko said. It was the third of four unions to ratify a contract for the next three years, as the contracts for the Police Officers Association of Michigan employees and Police Officers Labor Council employees were ratified by the county in late September.
Only one bargaining unit, the Teamsters, which represents county road patrol deputies, is currently without a contract for the upcoming year, Borushko said.
“We have nothing scheduled in the Teamsters negotiations at this time,” he said.
The Teamsters’ contract with the county expired Oct. 1, and there was no extension of the expiring contract.