Negotiations between Teamsters Local Union 79 and the county have been reopened.
Teamsters business agent John Sholtes, in a letter to commissioners, said he wants to revisit the current collective bargaining agreement as it pertains to wages — salaries and health insurance.
Assistant County Administrator for General Services Russ Wetherington will handle the reopened negotiations with the Teamsters.
Normally, Director of Administrative Services Cheryl Marsden would do those honors but she is busy handling the merger between Spring Hill and Hernando County Fire Rescue, which must be done by Oct. 1.
Marsden said that is a major project and County Administrator Len Sossamon thought it would be better to have Wetherington negotiate with the Teamsters this time.
The reopened negotiations were not unexpected, Marsden said Thursday. There was a reopener in the contract that could be activated at any time.
It just happens that the reopening occurred about four weeks after the initial contract was ratified last month.
Marsden said the salaries reconsideration was not a surprise. However, she said the health insurance package was because the benefit dollars had recently been increased for employees.
Last month, union steward Dan Oliver called it a “good contract,” even though there were no salary hikes.
About 100 of the 400 Teamsters members voted on the contract, which was approved by 98 percent of the nonprofessional unit members and 100 percent of the professional unit.
The issue of employee seniority remained the biggest sticking point right up to the end of negotiations last month. Specifically, the question revolved around how seniority was factored in when making hiring or firing decisions.
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.