Sheriff’s office union OKs contract

JOHNSTOWN – A 75-member union whose members include Fulton County Jail staff and 911 communications specialists recently approved a proposed new four-year contract containing 2.25 percent raises for 2014 and 2015.

The contract, which took three years to negotiate, could be finalized by the county Board of Supervisors on June 9.

Sheriff’s Office Employees Alliance President Jim Eschler, a corrections officer, said the membership voted by a 2-1 ratio last month to approve the contract.

Oppenheim Supervisor George Capek, chairman of the county board’s Personnel Committee, said today the proposed alliance contract is a four-year retroactive deal. He said the contract calls for no raises for alliance members for 2012 and 2013, but 2.25 percent raises for 2014 and 2015.

Eschler said negotiations were supposed to start about three years ago. He said talks didn’t get under way until 18 or 19 months ago.

“We went to a mediator,” Eschler said. “The negotiations are always hard.”

Amsterdam attorney Gerard DeCusatis, counsel for the union, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The alliance consists of members of the corrections staff at the county jail on Route 29, as well as other civilian Sheriff’s Department personnel such as 911 employees and Civil Office staff.

The alliance is one of four Fulton County government unions. The others are: the 285-member General Unit, Local 818, Civil Service Employees Association; the Nurses Unit; and the Fulton County Deputy Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association, which consists of road patrol officers.

The general unit union is due to be back at the bargaining table soon.

Local 818 President Ron Briggs said Thursday he didn’t know the status of the general unit situation.

“We’re going to be approaching them,” Capek said.

Fulton County’s current contract with the general unit was retroactive when it was ratified in March 2013 by both sides.

The contract granted no raises for 2010, 2013 and 2014, but it contained a 1 percent raise for 2011 and the first half of 2012, and a 1.5 percent raise for the second half of 2012.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at