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County Council signs 2009-12 contract with labor union

After six months of negotiations, the San Juan County Council has signed a four-year contract with Local 49 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

The contract gives the represented employees a 1.25 percent cost of living increase, retroactive to January 2009, and another 1.25 percent increase effective July 1. The contract sets cost of living increases at 3 percent for the remaining three years of the contract.

Other provisions would stabilize the county’s share of employee health insurance premiums, over the term of the contract, at 80 percent for full-time employees. Beginning next year, it will pay 70 percent of insurance premiums, rather than the current 80 percent, for employees who work half to just over three-quarters time.

Beginning next year, the county will offer the option of dental insurance coverage at the group rate to the dependents of employees, at the employee’s expense.

Rules involving grievances, temporary assignment to do work classified in a higher pay grade, and medical leave provisions were adjusted to bring them into line with state and federal regulations.

“The proposed contract took a long time to get to this point, with sacrifices made on both sides of the negotiating table,” Administrator Pete Rose told the council. “We believe this is a fair and reasonable contract and supports our value of ensuring that we recognize the importance of hiring and retaining qualified and trained staff in meeting our mandates and having fair and market-valued wages and benefits.”

Normally, union representatives would sign the contract first, however the union’s representative is currently in the hospital, so the council voted unanimously to provisionally sign the contract and forward it to the union to be signed before the close of business on June 15.

AFSCME Local 49 represents about 160 full- and part-time county employees, roughly two-thirds of the county government’s workforce.

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