By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — North Country Community College is trying to garner approval from both sponsor-counties for a new contract that averages 1.3 percent annual raises over four years for non-instructional employees.
Monday, the Essex County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee voted unanimously, 9-0, to OK the new four-year contract between the college and its administrative support staff represented by the Civil Service Employees Association.
Another vote will be taken at the Ways and Means session on Monday, Nov. 25 at, with a final vote at the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 2.
The Franklin County Legislature will weigh in on it Thursday, College President Dr. Steven Tyrell said.
He told Essex County lawmakers that the new contract, which is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2012, when the old one expired, extends raises of 1 percent for the first year then 1.5 percent annually for the next three years.
‘MOSTLY DONE DEAL’
Some supervisors complained about a lack of county involvement in the negotiation process.
“I look at this, (and) it’s pretty much a done deal, yet there are a number of participants in this agreement: Essex County, Franklin County, NCCC,” Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said.
“We should have been involved in the process over the course of the last year.”
He asked that the college allow future participation by the counties.
Tyrell said he agreed they should look at possible county involvement in labor negotiations more closely, and that he did not disagree with Politi.
“There was more communication this year than the last time around. But Roby raised a good point — to what point does the county want to be involved in the negotiation process?”
He said each county could send a representative to negotiations, and they will look at how that could be done.
PART-TIMER RAISE, FREE TUITION
The new contract also gives raises of 15 cents an hour for part-timers and sets the worker contribution for health insurance at 8 percent of the premium cost.
Politi said an 8 percent insurance contribution is much too low.
“I think 8 percent is ridiculous. The county people (workers) are paying 20 percent or more. My town is paying 25 percent.”
The 8 percent contribution affects employees hired by NCCC after Dec. 13, 2010. Workers hired before that date pay varying amounts, depending on when they were hired.
The contract also gives free tuition at the college to children of NCCC employees.
“The free tuition is almost perceived as a gift of taxpayer money,” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said. “Has that ever been looked at? Is it something we can legally do?”
It has been in the contract for a decade, Tyrell said. “In higher education, it’s a very common practice.”
“I don’t have any trouble with the basics of the contract,” Politi said. “They’ve done a great job with (negotiating) salaries.”
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