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April 2017 Column - Fair Deal for AFSCME Members


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve all read the stories in the paper of the countless individuals suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic. There has been a lot of talk of families being ripped apart by this tragedy, too often we hear talk but see little action.

Legislator Ted Morton joined Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Holland Central School Superintendent Cathy Fabiatos and Alden School Superintendent Adam Stoltman to announce continued funding for school resource officers (SRO) in several local districts. The SRO program provides a uniformed officer in schools as a way to promote student safety, conflict resolution and anti-bullying initiatives.


At a Legislative session held on September 21, 2017, Legislator Ted Morton honored Lancaster resident, Dick Young as the September 2017 Citizen of the month.


Today, in response to the County Executive’s offer to work with Legislator Morton to develop a compromise Made in America Act, Legislator Ted Morton wrote to him to begin the process.


Legislator Ted Morton first introduced the Made in America Act in support of local manufacturers and local workers in Erie County. After passing the Legislature by a vote of 9-1, the County Executive vetoed the law after instructing the County Attorney to draft a legal opinion.


I wanted to report this month regarding the ongoing contract dispute between the County and AFSCME Local 1095, which represents many of the blue collar workers throughout our county. These workers often work pay check to pay check and in some cases hold second jobs to make ends meet.

 

The union’s contract with the county expired and there have been several key issues that remain unresolved. After a proposal failed in the summer of 2016, an independent Fact Finder proposed a new settlement that was not agreed to by both parties. As a result, the county and AFSCME are at an impasse. One of the largest issues remaining is the lack of back pay and wage increases for union workers. With many of these workers being some of the lowest paid taxpayers in our county, I’m sure many can understand how that has been a major challenge.

 

In addition there is an issue over the rising cost in healthcare; coupled with the lack of wage increases the contract remains unresolved. Recent proposals would have provided a wage increase but would have reduced their health care benefits resulting in a net decrease in the employees’ wages. The county has pushed for ASFSCME employees to use a different health care program which would save the county money.

 

Under New York State law, the County Legislature can resolve this impasse by establishing contract terms for 2016 as the year has already passed. My colleagues and I have been working with the union to break this impasse and provide a deal that makes sense for the county and our workforce. Working together we were able to break the stalemate by providing a lump sum payment to the workers for 2016. The union was open to this proposal because although it does not resolve the issues regarding health care, it provides a one-time payment. I supported this measure because it allowed 2016 to be taken off the table for negotiation and provides a new opportunity to jumpstart negotiations to resolve the remaining years of the contract. In addition, the County Executive recently stated that the county will end 2016 with a $3 million surplus far exceeding the cost of this proposal.

 

Our blue collar work force are some of the lowest paid in the community and in order to recruit strong candidates for these positions it is essential that they have comparable pay with similar positions throughout our community. I am in strong support of our union workers and am confident that we will be able to work together to resolve the remaining contract issues in a way that is beneficial to both AFSCME and our county.

 

As always should you have any questions on this or any other issue, please give me a call at 858-8856 or send an email to ted.morton@erie.gov