Clark County, top union OK raises

A wage reopener negotiated with county at a cost of $54,080.

SPRINGFIELD — Clark County government’s largest union will receive 1 percent raises and a 5 percent increase to the maximum pay ranges under changes to its current contract.

Clark County commissioners unanimously approved the changes Tuesday as part of a wage reopener negotiated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Ohio Council, Local 1939. The pay increase is effective Jan. 1 and will cost the county $54,080.

Union members gave up raises last year when they reached a three-year agreement with commissioners in May 2011. But under the contract, AFSCME could request a wage reopener each year if the budget allows and also could get merit raises, as members will this year.

AFSCME represents 162 employees with Job and Family Services of Clark County.

The increases put union members in line with others, said commissioners, who last month approved a 2 percent pay increase for all nonunion county employees.

Union members did not return calls seeking comment, but JFS Assistant Director Kerry Pedraza called the pay increase a boon for employees who have been asked to do more with less.

“It’s just really great we were able to do this. Our number of customers has increased 30 percent to 40 percent in certain areas, while at the same time we’ve seen such as huge reduction in staff due to attrition or reduction in staff,” Pedraza said.

Union members received 1.5 percent raises in 2008 and 2010.

Union members earn from $9.70 an hour to more than $23 an hour, according to documents the Springfield News-Sun obtained.

The pay range for social workers, for example, is from $13.61 to $21.75. The pay range increase means a social worker who receives the current maximum pay can still receive a raise because the pay range has been bumped up by 5 percent, JFS Director Bob Suver explained.

Commissioner David Hartley supported pay increases because of the lack of increases in the last few years. “We’ve cut benefits to employees and they haven’t received a pay raise in several years,” he said. “They’ve put up with us, with all of our money problems, and everybody is working harder, so I saw no reason why there shouldn’t be raises.”