LAKE PLACID -- CSEA union employees have a contract with management at the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

Civil Service Employees Association Locals 059 and 060 -- with about 325 workers at ORDA venues here, in Wilmington and in North Creek -- reached agreement on a two-year contract, retroactive to April 1.

"Both CSEA and ORDA worked diligently to bring the negotiations to resolution and were able to officially finalize the terms of a mutually beneficial contract earlier today," ORDA spokesman Sandy Caligiore said in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon.

"The official contract will be signed by both parties by the end of December. Local 059 is represented at the Lake Placid venues, while Local 060 laborers are employed at Gore Mountain."

The CSEA, in a 113-28 vote, approved the contract, brokered through union mediation after early negotiations hit an impasse.

"We're pleased with the deal," Union President William L. Shurter said in a phone interview Tuesday.

"The contract gives ORDA employees some of what they have been asking for right now. It also has opened new lines of communication. I think what we need to do next is work on changing the perception down in Albany of ORDA employees.

"We still have this discrepancy in pay compared to other state workers. We'll be working through our legislators."

A recent call made by one ORDA worker to Belleayre, a ski area in Highmount operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation, found lift operators start at more than $11 per hour, Shurter said.

"Our lift attendants up here start at $8.50 per hour, a three-dollar difference. I really don't understand how that's justified in Albany."

Union officials held informational meetings with workers at ORDA venues through the weekend and delivered ballots to the bobsled run at Mount VanHoevenberg and Whiteface in the snowstorm Sunday.

One part of the deal, Shurter said, gives ORDA employees a lump payment in their last paycheck of the year.

"It's not in time for Christmas, but it's in time for Christmas bills. We're pleased. We realize we still have a way to go, but communication lines are open. It never hurts to talk."

Management officials at the Olympic Center were also pleased with the outcome.

"Since its inception, ORDA has had an extraordinary workforce made up of men and women with exceptional talent," ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer said in a statement.

"Whether it is hosting the world for an event, welcoming visitors from far and near to our facilities, maintaining intricate equipment, making our services safe and presentable or administering operations, the staff has always done a remarkable job. So much so that, as part of a dynamic team, we have been recognized for our efforts in major publications and news services.

"This organization is only as good as the people making day-to-day operations run smoothly. I am pleased that we have reached an agreement that will acknowledge their loyal and valued efforts."

Shurter said that with negotiations completed, "we can now move forward and focus on what looks to be a very promising year."

kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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