Press-Republican

Thursday

April 10, 2014

Union seeking outside assistance

MALONE — A continuing stalemate between Franklin County and Sheriff’s Department employees has led the union to seek a fact-finder to draw up a possible settlement.

The union says it wants both parties to be bound to the final recommendation, but the county may not be willing to go that far, according to the county manager.

NO PACT SINCE 2011

Members of the United Public Service Employees Union at the County Jail have not had a new contract with the county since 2011.

Talks have been held off and on since then with no resolution. The main sticking points concern health-insurance benefits, compensatory time and wages.

‘WILLING TO LISTEN’

Phil Sedlock, the union’s labor-relations representative, said the two sides can continue talking as the fact-finding request is under review by the State Public Employment Relations Board.

But it is likely the issues will not be settled without a fact-finder “unless the county offers more,” he said.

One area that union members are firm about involves wages and benefits for future employees hired under a new contract. But they are willing to listen, Sedlock said.

“We didn’t want the whole process to be a waste, so we’re going to request fact-finding.”

ASSURANCE SOUGHT

Each side will offer written arguments to the fact-finder, who will then draw up a proposed compromise, but it would be non-binding.

The county and the union each vote on the proposal, but no one is locked in to the deal, which is something Sedlock would like to see changed.

“The union and its members feel strongly that this process can be a fair and neutral settlement,” he said in a news release.

“However, the fact-finding process can be ineffective and useless unless both parties are committed to attaining a solution.

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