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County reaches accord with union

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Jefferson County officials and the union that represents 90 of its employees in the Sheriff’s Department have reached a tentative contract agreement that will give the employees raises and also will require them to pay more toward their health care.

Each side felt like it gave up a little too much, said Valerie M. Borland, the county’s director of human resources, who is on the contract negotiating team. It’s a sign, she said, that the contract was a fair one.

The dispatch and corrections employees at the Sheriff’s Department will receive a retroactive 1 percent raise from 2011, and 2 percent raises for 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Employees on family plans eventually will pay $25 more every two weeks, or $650 annually, toward their health-insurance plans. The extra health-care payments start after the contract is ratified and gradually increase until the start of 2013.

In March, the employees shot down an agreement with the county, but declined to elaborate. The union’s president declined to comment. Ms. Borland said the revised contract to which the union agreed last week was identical to the one it rejected in March, except that it added an extra year.

The union’s previous contract had expired at the end of 2010. Employees were working under the conditions of their old contract.

They weren’t paying more toward their health insurance, as the county had wanted, but they also weren’t getting pay raises, as the union’s members had wanted.

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators Finance and Rules Committee recommended the contract Tuesday night, which now will be up for consideration at the full board’s August meeting.

A mediator helped the county settle the dispute, said Michael E. Kaskan, the deputy county administrator.

The county’s contracts with the Civil Service Employees Association and the union that represents sheriff’s deputies are still in negotiations and both are expired. But the end of the impasse with the 90 dispatchers and corrections officers will mean that at least some county employees will work under a collective bargaining agreement.

“It does make life a little more hectic” to have three expired contracts in negotiation, Mr. Kaskan said.

The county is in mediation with the CSEA and is in negotiations with the sheriff’s deputies.

This article has been updated to correct a misstated amount that employees on family plans will have to pay toward their health insurance. It is $650 annually.

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