Essex County Board of Supervisors
The Essex County Board of Supervisors approved a new three-year contract with members of the County Chapter of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA).
The board voted to approve the contract, which would retroactively take effect as of Jan. 1 of this year and give no pay increases to members of the union in 2013, with a 1 percent increase in 2014 and a 2 percent increase in 2015.
County Manager Dan Palmer said that the contract represented a compromise between the two sides.
“This contract represents a cooling off contract between both sides because it was rather contentious at times,” Palmer said. “This really is kind of a compromise. It leaves the union with certain items that they felt were important to be preserved.”
Palmer said that a major compromise came between the annual wage increases and overtime in the Sheriff’s Department, where the 12-hour schedule led to four hours of overtime per pay period. The union agreed to language that would remove the overtime charges from the payroll while the county increased their pay increase offer from zero percent in the second year to 1 percent.
“That provides a savings of about $175,000 per year with the overtime,” Palmer said. “In return, we did change our original proposal from 0-0-2 to 0-1-2 for pay increases. We did that to compromise on the four hours of overtime at the Sheriff’s Department. That is a permanent reduction, and I felt that this was a fair exchange and the committee agreed.”
Members of the contract committee commented on the compromises that were reached.
“I did not see everything that I wanted, and I am sure that I can say that the union did not see everything that they wanted,” Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said. “I think that this contract is a good representation for the county.”
“I think that all sides saw that we all have jobs to do and let’s get it done,” Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said. “It was a good job by all.”
“This is good for the county, especially if you compare the increase in wages and what we have had before,” County Attorney Dan Manning said.
The accepted contract was approved by union membership, 193-63. It was the second time that the union voted on the contract, previously defeating the first proposal from the county.
“I want to thank them for putting in the extra effort to get this done after it was defeated the first time,” County Chairman Randy Douglas said.
Lewis Supervisor David Blades said that he was concerned that not as many members of the union voted the second time around.
“Only half of the employees came in and voted, and that concerns me,” Blades said. “I would have liked to have seen larger numbers to represent a more true decision by their members.”
“I think that we did a good job to rally them to come out to the last vote and they turned it down in large numbers,” Palmer said. “I think that people who saw the new contract and decided that it was good did not come.”
Union President Michael McGinnn said he felt the compromise agreement was good for all sides.
“We worked well together in today’s economy,” McGinn said. “It went really well and both sides got not everything they wanted, but it was a very, very good compromise for today’s world and helping with the county budget situation.”
Douglas thanked McGinn and the union for their work in the process.
“When we first went into the union negotiations, I did not think we would get to where we are today,” Douglas said. “I want to thank Mike for negotiating in good faith.”