ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced that he has reached a tentative labor agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association (“CSEA”), the County’s largest labor union.
Both sides have agreed not to disclose terms of the deal until CSEA has had the opportunity to communicate the terms to its members. Poloncarz and the union both feel that the agreement responsibly addresses the budgetary restraints and current economic climate facing Erie County.
“Today, I believe we have reached a fair agreement with the County’s largest employee union,” said Poloncarz. “I want to thank CSEA leadership for coming to the table in good faith and understanding the financial constraints facing the County in negotiating what I believe is a good and fair deal for both employees and taxpayers.”
“CSEA and County worked together in good faith these last seven months to reach a tentative agreement that recognizes the importance of the work our members do,” said CSEA Erie County Unit and Local President Joan Bender. “The tentative agreement takes into consideration the difficult financial situation in Erie County and it includes shared sacrifice by both sides. It is time to bring a tentative agreement back to the members and let them decide.”
CSEA will hold several informational meetings with its membership to discuss the proposal between August 2nd and 6th. More information on times and locations of meetings can be found at http://www.csealocal815.org/. CSEA employees have been working under a contract that expired on December 31, 2006. The tentative agreement covers approximately 2,400 county employees and other employees at Erie County Medical Center Corporation and Erie Community College.
Over the past several years, when considering Erie County for credit rating upgrades, rating agencies (Moody’s, Fitch and S&P) have consistently noted the uncertainty associated with the number of lapsed labor contracts as a risk factor. In their December 2011 upgrading of Erie County from ‘BBB+’ to ‘A-,’ in noting the risk facing Erie County, S&P wrote, “In addition, several of the county’s labor unions have been out of contract for several years, including its largest union, the Civil Service Employee Assn., which has been out of contract since 2006.”
Poloncarz added, “When I have spoken with rating agencies, their single largest concern has been the lapsed collective bargaining agreements with the County’s labor unions, some of which expired at the end of 2004, and especially with CSEA which is by far the County’s largest bargaining unit. The long-term certainty that will come from a new agreement will go a long way towards securing future credit rating upgrades and ultimately save County taxpayers countless dollars in borrowing interest.”
Contracts expired and/or were not successfully renegotiated under prior administrations for eight of the nine County bargaining units, which include: Teamsters (expired 12/31/04), CSEA (expired 12/31/06), Librarians (expired 12/31/06), Correction Officers (expired 12/31/06), Sheriff PBA (expired 12/31/08), Faculty Federation (expired 12/31/09), Administrators Association (expired 8/31/11), and NYSNA (expired 12/31/11).
Negotiations with other County employee unions are ongoing.