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Wednesday, Apr 01, 2015

County employees get 3 percent raise

Published:   |   Updated: October 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - The Teamsters Local Union 79 and the county have tentatively reached an agreement on a 3 percent across-the-board raise for about 400 employees.

It also calls for a higher reimbursement from the county to the employee's health care costs.

The raise, the first in six years, must still be voted on by union members and county commissioners.

The union had originally proposed a 6 percent wage increase but agreed to accept the 3 percent along with a 10 percent increase in health insurance benefit dollars for the remainder of the contract, which expires in 2014.

John Sholtes, business agent for the Teamsters, said the tentative agreement has the full endorsement of the union negotiating committee and Local 79.

The union will vote on the proposed contract Oct. 31.

Under the terms of the new contract, the increase in benefit dollars from the county for single employees would go from $340 up to $374 every other week; two-person households would see an increase from $400 up to $440; families' reimbursement dollars would rise from $450 up to $495.

"It is a great economic package for our members that not only provides for a long overdue wage increase, it also absorbs the 6 percent health insurance rate increase and provides another 4 percent toward health insurance costs," Sholtes said in an email.

"Our lowest-paid members struggle each month to pay for family health insurance coverage and some simply cannot afford it."

Sholtes said the Affordable Health Care Act legislation had an influence on the health care reimbursement costs and the contract locks in the rates to protect employees.

The 3 percent raise covers all bargaining unit employees, regardless of where they are in respective pay ranges.

Once the Teamsters reopens collective bargaining agreement for fiscal year 2015, it is expected to form a committee to explore the development of a wage step plan for the next contract term.

The committee's function will be to make sure the step plan is "fair for the employees and ensure that the contract spells out how employees will advance through the steps," Sholtes said.

"We have some very good employees and they have been working hard for the county," Assistant County Administrator for General Services Russ Wetherington said in an email. "They deserve the increases to help offset the cost of living."

Union members had been functioning under a contract that expired Sept. 30, 2011. The new contract, which affects about 400 Hernando County employees under the board of county commissioners, will expire Sept. 30, 2014.

If approved, the new contract would be retroactive to Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

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