October 25, 2013

Franklin County balks at sheriff's union contract

Fact-finder will hear merits of each side, offer compromise

MALONE — Franklin County rejected a contract with its Sheriff’s Department union over hazard pay that would have pushed raises the final year to 4.5 percent.

Thursday’s vote, held during a special meeting, was 4-3, with Legislators Gordon Crossman (D-Malone), Sue Robideau (R-Brushton), Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake) and Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) voting against it.

Those in support of the contract were Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone), Guy “Tim” Smith (D-Fort Covington) and Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay).

All seven legislature seats are up for re-election on Nov. 5, and Crossman, Robideau and Lashomb have challengers.

Burpoe is not seeking re-election, and Maroun, Jones and Smith are running unopposed for new three-year terms.


The contract issue now goes to a fact-finder, who will hear the rationale for each side’s position on the negotiations and make a non-binding settlement recommendation.

Both sides will vote on the revised offer. If it is rejected by either side, the county then imposes a zero raise and the union continues under the old contract’s terms until a new deal is ratified.

The 60-member United Public Service Employees Union approved the new contract proposal on Oct. 16. It included no raise the first year, 2 percent in both years two and three and 2.5 percent in the fourth year.

But the sticking point was a new pay category in the proposed contract that added hazard or location pay retroactive to Aug. 21.

It would pay each employee 20 cents per hour worked from that date on in 2013, 30 cents per hour worked in 2014 and 35 cents per hour worked in 2015, said County Manager Thomas Leitz.

Jail employees work an average of 2,040 hours a year, so the new pay category would add about $700 to each person’s pocket, he said.

But location pay also applies to any overtime hours worked, so the cost would end up being even higher.

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