The mediator’s work is not binding, he said.
If the mediator is unsuccessful, a fact-finding group is formed to engage in mediation, then the fact-finders transmit a report to the county and union, and the State Public Employee Relations Board can get involved to assist.
“During impasse, there is no change in salaries,” Manning said. “They stay what they were. There are no increases.”
Union employees received 4 percent pay raises for 2011 and 2012, when other county workers were held to no increases.
This year, management-confidential and department heads got 2 percent pay increases, but no raises were budgeted for union workers in an attempt to address the pay differences of the previous two years.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said he can’t say much, either, about the proposed contract terms.
“It (the vote) just means we are back to the table.”
HUNDREDS IN UNION
Essex County has declared a budget crisis for each of the last three years, and budgets have included layoffs and deep cuts. A hiring freeze is currently in effect in the county.
The county has about 400 union workers out of about 700 employees.
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