County gives raises to some union workers

Workers in Clark County’s largest employee union will receive 2 percent raises for the next two years and may get a pay hike in the last year of a new contract reached with commissioners Wednesday.

Under the new contract, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Ohio Council 8, Local 1939 workers will give up merit raises the first two years, said Stacey Benson-Taylor, an AFSCME representative.

Clark County Job and Family Services has an annual budget of about $35 million and the pay increases will cost the organization $111,196 this year and $113,395 in 2016, Director David Dombrosky said.

The contract also includes a wage re-opener clause that requires officials to conduct a comprehensive class and compensation study between 2014 and 2015 that will compare the salaries of Clark County JFS union workers to JFS employees in similar sized counties, Benson-Taylor said. Local employees will then negotiate a wage increase based on the findings from the study, she added.

Commissioners unanimously approved the three-year contract with AFSCME that is effective Jan. 1, 2014 until Dec. 31, 2016. AFSCME, which represents 161 union employees with the Clark County JFS, accepted the contract Feb. 26 after three months of negotiations.

Clark County officials said the contract was a good example of government and the union working together.

“I’m glad we have the contract and it’s a very fair contract for both sides,” Commissioner John Detrick said.

The new contract comes after union members and the county agreed to a three-year contract in which union members gave up raises in the first year, but received merit raises and a 1 percent raise in the second and third years of a contract that ended Dec. 31, 2013, Benson-Taylor said.

Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said the comprehensive class and compensation study is needed to determine if local wages compare to similar size communities. He said the study will show which employees rank high or low on the JFS wage scale.

“Some salaries may be too low,” Kennedy said. “It gives us problems being able to keep top employees and to recruit new employees that are in the collective bargaining unit. We’re hoping to correct that and fix that issue.”

Dombrosky said there is not an overall sense that wages are too low, but that officials are interested in learning how Clark County compares to others.

Union members received 1.5 percent raises in 2008 and 2010.

But in 2009, JFS faced a $3 million deficit and laid off 33 employees to save money. Twenty-two of those positions were unionized, and Local 1939 filed a grievance arguing that the layoffs were done inappropriately. An arbitrator agreed and the county was ordered to rehire nine people.

Benson-Taylor said the number of union members has never returned to the 230 in 2009, but the workload has increased significantly.

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