Contract negotiated for county jail employees

MAYVILLE It was a busy Thursday in Mayville for legislators on the Audit and Control Committee.

Other committee meeting items from throughout the week were overviewed, but the most heavily discussed agenda item was a tentative contract between the county and CSEA Unit 6323, which represents personnel working at the county jail.

This is the second contract to be voted on by the legislature in 2014.

“We have 120 members working for the jail, and they’ve been out of contract since 2011,” said Joe Porpiglia, director of Human Resources.

The total cost of the six-year contract, ending in 2017, is $1.7 million, does not include retroactive pay increases for 2012-13 and is not subject to binding arbitration. Two percent pay increases are included for years 2014-17.

Porpiglia said an issue during negotiations that the sheriff wished to address was over-time accrual.

“This agreement is a blending of sick time and vacation opportunities for corrections officers,” Porpiglia said. “It allows for additional, scheduled and earned vacation time off, with a calculation of minimum use of sick time.”

While overtime is costly to the county for employees working extensive hours beyond the normal work week, the policy is designed to better manage accrued overtime.

Sheriff Joe Gerace said he wanted to clarify overtime at the jail.

“We have 20 less full-time employees than the state says we should have,” he said. “We are very careful in monitoring overtime and try to reduce it every way we can.”

The projected savings of the leave accrual policy was $21,000.

An amount of $138,843 in savings was projected in the contract involving those who voluntary participate in a high-deductible health plan.

Enrollment in the health plan will be mandatory for new hires beginning in November 2016, at an estimated savings of $28,694.

Legislators responded with mixed views. The yearly cost of the contract will be $232,000, while a recently approved contract for deputy sheriffs will cost an estimated $175,000 per year from 2012-16.

“I’m trying to get my arms around the monetary amount,” said John Runkle, R-Stockton. “I’m talking about financial implications as a dollar amount to the county of Chautauqua over time.”

Runkle also pointed out that the CSEA represents more than 1,000 workers.

“We’re dealing with 180 people so far,” he said. “I’m concerned where this is going. I can’t support this, personally.”

Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, pointed out that the new contract costs less per employee than the sheriff’s contract.

“Comparing this to the other contract I think you did a good job,” he said to Porpiglia. “I will be supporting this. These things are difficult to negotiate.”

Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, agreed.

“I have negotiated contracts, and it’s a very difficult job,” he said. “We have to keep in mind that the employees working under this contract are very hardworking and deserve a fair shake. I’ll be supporting this.”

According to Budget Director Kitty Crow, the average salary of a corrections officer is $48,500, with at least 10 jail workers making over $60,000.

“We’re giving you what we feel is a picture of extreme costs in this summary,” Porpiglia said. “There are a lot more potential savings.”

Nazzaro and Chagnon voted in favor of the contract.

Runkle, Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk, and George Borrello, R-Irving, voted against it.

Although the resolution was voted down by the Audit and Control Committee, it was approved by the Administrative Services Committee earlier in the week and must receive a majority vote by the full legislature for approval.

The contract will be voted on at Wednesday’s full regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.