Unions, county begin talks

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government is beginning the new year with new contract discussions with its unions, starting Wednesday with one of the county Sheriff’s Department unions.

Fulton County government has these four unions: General Unit, Local 818, Civil Service Employees Association; the Nurses Unit; the Fulton County Deputy Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association; and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Employees Alliance.

The alliance consists of members of the corrections staff at the county jail on Route 29, as well as some other civilian Sheriff’s Department personnel. The PBA consists of road patrol officers.

Oppenheim Supervisor George Capek, the new chairman of the Board of Supervisors’ Personnel Committee, said today initial, closed-door talks between the county and the sheriff’s PBA or alliance are slated to be conducted Wednesday morning.

County government’s nearly 300-member general unit union, which last year ratified its first new contract in more than three years, will also be back at the bargaining table this spring.

The CSEA general unit will be looking to start new contract talks. The last five-year deal was done in March 2013 and covered the previous three years, mostly contained no raises for the union’s 285 workers, but it expires at the end of the year.

Local 818 President Ron Briggs said Thursday he recently talked with county Personnel Director Theresa Souza, who indicated it may be too early for talks. But he said he may be formally contacting county management soon.

“I think I will be sending them a letter by March telling them we’re ready to start negotiations,” Briggs said.

Capek said he didn’t care to comment on whether he thinks the county might be able to grant higher levels of raises to the general unit this time around.

“I’m just one person,” he said.

Fulton County’s current contract with the general unit was retroactive when it was ratified by both sides last year. It granted no raises for 2010, 2013 and 2014, but it contained a 1 percent raise for all of 2011 and the first half of 2012, and a 1.5 percent raise for the second half of 2012.

That contract was the first new pact between county government and its largest union since 2009, after which point both sides were at impasse over a long period.

State Public Employment Relations Board-assigned fact-finder Gordon Mayo’s Dec. 13, 20’12 report to the county recommended raises in years 2012 an 2013, but the union was able to get them for 2011 and 2012.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.