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March 23, 2014

Sheriff's union contract inches closer

MALONE — The United Public Service Employees Union membership at the Franklin County Jail is still without a contract.

But a settlement could be coming shortly; union and county officials met to discuss terms earlier this month.

“We had a sit-down, and we’re trying to, I’d call it, massage a couple of things to do with new hires and work those out,” said Phil Sedlock, the union’s labor-relations representative.

“There was some resistance on our end as far as new employees, but we’re pretty close,” he said. “We want to see this resolved by early April at the very latest. We’re still trying to work it out.”

County Manager Thomas Leitz said he is also not free to speak about negotiations until a deal is ratified, but did admit a settlement is near.

“We’re pretty close, I agree. At least I’m hoping we’re pretty close,” he said. “Both sides agreed to a self-imposed silence, but I do agree we’re closer than we were before.”

‘CLOSE TO VOTE’

Sedlock said he was in touch early last week with union members on the negotiating team “to see what progress was being made with the county manager and County Legislature.

“We’ve got it 95 percent worked out as far as being able to take it to a vote,” he said, adding that this would likely be the last attempt to work out a deal before the issues would go to a fact finder.

Union members, who have been without a labor agreement since 2012, rejected a second mediated offer in January after legislators ratified a four-year contract offer on Dec. 19, 2013, that provided no raises for 2012 or 2013.

That offer also included a 4 percent raise in 2014 and a 4.5 percent raise in 2015.

Sedlock said at that time, the union had made concessions to accept revised drug and alcohol testing, higher health-insurance co-pays, a comp-time cap and a lower wage scale for new hires.

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