County approves contract

JOHNSTOWN -Fulton County legislators on Monday approved a new, retroactive four-year contract with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Employees Alliance containing 2.25 percent raises for 2014 and 2015.

Action by the Board of Supervisors followed a closed-door executive session for employment history and collective bargaining.

The union’s 75 members approved the deal in April. Members of the union include: Fulton County Jail staff, 911 communications specialists and civil personnel.

The county and the alliance – one of the county’s four unions – approved a collective bargaining agreement retroactive to 2012. The contract calls for no raise for 2012 and a zero percent increase for 2013, although alliance members will receive $500 extra on their base salaries for 2013. A 2.25 percent wage hike was built in for both 2014 and 2015.

Fulton County government has frozen wages with several contracts in recent years. But Board of Supervisors Chairman Rick Argotsinger alluded to a slight thaw in that county fiscal situation following the meeting.

“I think we’re stable in our financial situation, I wouldn’t say any better,” Argotsinger said.

Alliance President Jim Eschler, a corrections officer, said Wednesday he’s glad the deal is finally done.

“Its been a long process,” he said. “Obviously, we would have wanted it done better, but we appreciate what was done.”

Eschler said in May that negotiations were supposed to start about three years ago, but actual talks didn’t get under way until about 19 months ago. He said the process had to go through a mediator.

Other provisions from the new memorandum of agreement approved Monday included changes relating to: shift differential pay, dental coverage, lag pay, retirement pension, sick leave calendar quarter payments, health insurance and grievance procedures.

The others county unions 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.

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