The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

April 24, 2014

Union, city OK 4-year contract

HERMITAGE — Hermitage’s nonuniformed employees have a new four-year contract that gives them average pay hikes of 2.5 percent a year and the opportunity to live outside the city limits, while allowing administrators more flexibility in scheduling.

City commissioners approved the pact Wednesday and City Manager Gary P. Hinkson said he was informed the union had previously ratified the deal.

An attempt Wednesday night to reach union President Wayne Covert, who works in the water pollution control department, was unsuccessful.

The current deal with Local 2778 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ends April 30. The new contract will run through April 30, 2018, for about 40 employees, including clerical workers, employees of the street and water pollution control departments, technicians and inspectors.

Bargainers had been at the table since February, but Hinkson said there were times when it didn’t seem like progress was being made.

“It came together quickly at the end,” he said, adding that he believes the impending end of the current pact helped generate enthusiasm for reaching a deal.

“It was a typical bargaining agreement where no one got everything they wanted,” Hinkson said. “Everybody got something they wanted.”

In the first year, employees will get 1.5 percent pay hikes, plus cash payments of 1 percent of their base salaries. For the next three years, base salaries will go up by 2.5 percent.

Employees will be allowed to live within 10 miles of the city building, as long as they reside in Pennsylvania, a benefit previously won by the police union.

Also echoing the police contract, new hires will pay 1.5 percent of their salaries into a retiree health-care plan.

The similarities in benefits between the two unions is by design and has been particularly beneficial in addressing universal issues, such as health care, Hinkson said.

The police contract expires Dec. 31, 2015.

The AFSCME pact allows city officials to declare up to four shutdown days a year with notification of those dates occurring by Jan. 31. City offices will be closed and employees will be required to either take paid leave or not be paid, Hinkson said.

“They’re going to be used in specific situations,” Hinkson said of shutdown days.

This year, shutdown days will be Dec. 24 and 26, and are based on Christmas falling on a Thursday. Typically, not much business is conducted on those days and many employees would take them off anyway, Hinkson said. Other employees who would like to take the days off would be forced to work simply to have the city building staffed, he said.

Shutdown days do not affect departments with seven-day work schedules: police patrol and water pollution control plant employees.

In a related vein, the contract allows employees assigned to maintenance of buildings and grounds to be assigned flexible schedules from April 1 to Oct. 31.

That detail reflects the city’s expansion of its parks and play fields and plans for continued growth. The play fields complex on South Darby Road requires that someone open and close it, and officials expect a similar demand will follow when Stull Farm Community Environmental Park on Sample Road is developed.

“This gives us some flexibility if we have a weekend softball tournament,” Hinkson gave as an example. “We can shift someone’s schedule so we’re not paying overtime.”

The new AFSCME deal also:

• Eliminates separate paychecks for overtime.

• Allows unused vacation time to carry over until April 30 of the next year.

• Requires that the spouse of a new hire not participate in the city’s health care plan if the spouse’s employer offers health care.

• Sets employee health-care contributions at a maximum of $90 a month. The current cap is $80 a month.

• Sets 180-day eligibility waiting periods for vision and dental benefits.

• Ups the calendar dental benefit and lifetime orthodontics benefit to $1,500 each.

• Requires retirees to continue to pay health-care premiums at a rate not to exceed the rate at the date of their retirement for a single employee.

• Increases the number of sick days for employees hired after May 1, 2002, to six from five.

• Requires the city to make one-time purchases of winter safety jackets for employees eligible for the safety shoe allowance at a cost not to exceed $250 a jacket.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Doss: Public has right to know

    A major part of Farrell council’s work session Monday was spent deciding whether or not to inform the audience about an unofficial police proposal from the City of Sharon.

    July 30, 2014

  • Budget falling short despite tax hike

    Farrell residents may have seen an income tax increase this year, but the city isn’t seeing the extra dollars City Manager Michael Ceci budgeted for.

    July 30, 2014

  • oakwood graves 1 Resting together

    Visitors to Oakwood Cemetery would see many  familiar local names if they looked down the hillside to the left just inside the gate on Sharon’s North Oakland Avenue.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Police: Kids in car were OK

    The mother of two young children was drunk and passed out when police found them all in a car parked along a city street, Sharon police said.

    July 29, 2014

  • To talk – or not – about police

    The mysterious agenda item, “No. 10,” at Farrell’s council meeting Monday became the center of a heated workshop and business session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from July 26, 2014

    Man faces bomb threat charges

    June building tops $4 million in Hermitage

    July 26, 2014

  • Elderly man survives plane crash

    An elderly man survived wrecking his plane into a bank, then landing into a wetland, about 200 feet south of Runway 28 at Grove City Regional Airport in Springfield Township on Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • Dontae Rashad Pinkins Man arrested for April gunfight

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April gunfight with another man in a Sharon alley.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo