CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners unanimously approved new collective bargaining agreements with non-professional residual, court-appointed and court-related units at their regular meeting June 23.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting, the commissioners also unanimously approved a new agreement with the Children & Youth Services’ caseworkers bargaining unit.
The new agreements will be effective for five years from Jan. 1, 2016 until Dec. 31, 2020, according to the commissioners.
These new agreements will govern the terms and conditions for bargaining unit employees in the following departments: commissioners, registration and election, GIS, controller, assessment and tax claim, treasurer, register and recorder, prothonotary/clerk of courts, public defender, planning, court reporters, secretaries in the district justice offices, court administration, domestic relations, including enforcement officers, sheriff’s office, including deputy sheriffs, clerical staff in the district attorney’s office, clerical staff in the probation offices, all maintenance staff and telecommunications positions in the 911 call center, along with secretarial and support positions at the jail, emergency management, veteran’s affairs, CYS and the Victim Witness office.
Throughout the offices listed, the four approved contracts cover approximately 150 county government employees, said Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen, chair. The commissioners said they were very pleased with the new contract agreements.
In order to achieve settlement of these contracts, she said that the commissioners pursued “early bird” collective bargaining negotiations with Teamsters Local 205.
According to the commissioners, although the existing contracts would not have expired until Dec. 31, they and representatives of Teamsters Local 205 engaged in contract negotiations well in advance of the expiration date to bring about positive results for both the county and the employees.
“The negotiations focused on the most important issues facing the county and the employees and ultimately saved valuable time and monetary resources for the county, its employees and the taxpayers of Clearfield County,” the commissioners said.
The commissioners indicated that so far as the key issue of wages over the five-year term of the agreements, members of the non-professional residual, court-appointed, court-related and CYS caseworkers bargaining units will receive a 50-cent increase in their hourly base rate in both 2016 and 2017; a 45-cent increase in 2018 and 2019; and a 40-cent increase in 2020.
Further, the commissioners indicated that on average across the units, employees will receive a 4.4 percent wage increase in 2016; a 4.2 percent increase in 2017; a 3.6 percent increase in 2018; a 3.5 percent increase in 2019; and a 3 percent increase in 2020.
In comparison, the expiring agreements that were the result of an arbitration ruling saw the same bargaining unit members receive a one-time lump sum payment in 2011 and a 30-cent per hour annual wage increases from 2012 to 2015, according to the commissioners.
The commissioners said that in exchange for the wage adjustments, the bargaining committees agreed to contract language that will allow the county to work with Teamsters Local 205 during the term of the contract to minimize, and possibility eliminate, any cost impact the Cadillac Tax portion of the federal Affordable Care Act may have on future employee health insurance benefit costs.
“Since 2005, [we] have been working to maintain employee benefits at a quality level while controlling annual costs,” said the commissioners.
“These efforts have seen annual benefit cost increases held way below market averages and have allowed the county to recapture surplus funds as a member of the Pennsylvania Counties Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative.”
The commissioners said that working under the PCHIPC model, the county receives annual surplus refunds, a portion which goes into a Rate Stabilization Fund to keep monthly premiums in check, with the remaining surplus funds going directly back into the County General Fund, which is a savings for county taxpayers.
Commissioners Robinson-McMillen, John A. Sobel and Mark B. McCracken said, “We believe the new agreements will allow the county to move forward over the next five years to provide quality, cost effective services for the communities and citizens of Clearfield County while at the same time providing a good working environment for county government employees.”