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December 24, 2013

Franklin County reaches pact with jail staff

MALONE — Franklin County ratified a new four-year contract with its Sheriff’s Department union, with raises of 4 percent in 2014 and 4.5 percent in 2015.

The agreement, approved by a 6-to-1 vote of the County Legislature, also brings nearly all of the department’s workers under the same health-insurance plan as the county’s largest bargaining unit, the United Public Service Employees Union, which represents 450 employees.

The Sheriff’s Association Union had asked for, but did not receive, additional pay for hazardous duty in the final agreement.

And a clause was removed from the new deal that would have allowed the county to take back a negotiated raise if its finances deteriorated, as they did in 2011.

The union lost an anticipated 3 percent raise that year, which was the final year of the previous contract.

‘THEY DESERVE IT’

Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) said she had rejected an earlier pay-increase schedule that would have provided 12 percent raises in the contract’s four years; but, because there will be no raises awarded retroactively for 2012 or 2013, she said she can accept the total of 8.5 percent for the four years.

Legislator Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) voted “yes” in part to “get it off our plate,” since an agreement hasn’t been in place for going on three years.

“It’s time we made a decision and stuck with it,” he said.

Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said he approved the deal because “they deserve it.

“The headlines are going to say 4 and 4.5 percent raises, but they got zero in 2012 and 2013,” he said. 

“And there will be savings in health insurance … that will more than cover the raises. 

“It’s the right thing to do.”

MAROUN OPPOSED

The only dissenting vote came from Legislator Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake), who said he had nothing against the hardworking and deserving correction officers and deputies at the jail but that such raises set the county up for tough negotiations in 2014 when its contract is up with the larger employee union.

“They’re going to say, ‘If you can give it to them, you can give it to us,’” Maroun said.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

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