Rochester, N.Y. Democrat & Chronicle
Written By David Andreatta
Rochester, N.Y. -- Monroe County and the union that represents the largest proportion of its employees have agreed on a labor contract nearly four years after the last one expired.
The roughly 1,900 workers represented by the Civil Service Employees Association last week ratified the deal, which is short on raises but leaves retiree health benefits untouched and retains a health insurance program coveted by employees.
The contract was ratified by nearly a two-thirds majority, according to the union’s unit president. The County Legislature approved the pact on Tuesday.
Although the contract spans five years, from 2009 through 2013, its timing is such that it is effectively a short-term, one-year deal. The two sides are slated to begin negotiating again early next year.
The contract offers no retroactive wage increases for the years 2009 through 2011, but allows for a $250 bump in the 2012 salary schedule and a 2 percent raise in 2013. For a worker who had topped out on the salary scale in 2008 at $42,948, the new deal translates to a 2013 salary of $44,062.
In exchange, the union retains benefits for retirees and a health insurance plan. Although the union acknowledged that workers will pay between 4- and 8-percent more for insurance under the plan.
Sealing the deal temporarily ends a hostile chapter in county labor relations with the union. The last four years were marked by regular union protests outside the county office building and accusations of unfair bargaining practices.
But the county’s labor strife is not over. Hours before the legislature approved the CSEA pact, workers represented by the Federation of Social Workers picketed outside the county office building. FSW has also been without a contract since 2008.
Cris Zaffuto, president of the CSEA Unit 7400, predicted more acrimony at the bargaining table next year.
“I think that when we go back to the table, the county is going to want to rewrite history, which has to do with rewriting the whole contract,” Zaffuto said.
County Human Resources Director Brayton Connard called the pact a “responsible” and “fair” contract, and complimented the workforce.
He added, though, that the two sides are far apart on health insurance for retirees and that the item will be on the table again next year.
“We think the workforce understand that these agreements should be sustainable,” Connard said.