BROOKSVILLE - A new contract for about 400 government employees has been approved by the county and ratified by union members.
Commissioners Tuesday approved the pact, which includes a 3 percent across-the-board salary increase and a 10 percent increase in health insurance benefit dollars for the remainder of the contract, which expires in 2014.
Teamsters Local 79 members voted unanimously for the new contract.
Union steward Dan Oliver said the employees are pleased to be getting a raise after six years.
"I'm very happy with it," Oliver said. "It was a long time coming."
Oliver praised the county's negotiator in the process, Assistant County Administrator for General Services Russ Wetherington.
John Sholtes, business agent for the Teamsters, said recently 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.
"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."
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.
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.
The new contract is retroactive to Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2013-14 fiscal year.