MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The town of Carmel has come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with one its unions.
The town and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 1000 reached an agreement over a five-year contract, which was ratified by the union last week.
The Local 1000 includes many of the employees found at Town Hall, including the engineering department, building department, recreation and parks department, tax receiver’s office, assessor’s office, dispatching, court clerks and other administrative workers.
“It’s a very broad spectrum of employees,” said Councilman Jonathan Schneider, who along with Councilwoman Suzi McDonough, acted as Town Board liaison for the negotiations.
The union had been without a contract since 2013, so the new deal retroactively includes 2013 through 2015, as well as two additional years
Schneider said the major sticking point in getting the contract done was the issue of employee contributions toward healthcare benefits.
“[Having employees contribute to benefits] has been on our radar for a while,” Schneider said. “From the time I was elected four years ago, we (the Town Board) have wanted [employees to contribute]. We made a resolution that elected and appointed officials would pay [toward] benefits. We tried to lead by example.”
Schneider said some town employees were already making some contributions.
“If you were hired by Aug. 1, 1992 then you weren’t paying any contributions. If you were hired after that, individual [policy holders] didn’t contribute, but families did,” he noted.
Under the new contract, if a worker had been contributing toward benefits prior to Jan. 1, 2015, they will continue to pay in retirement. If they weren’t contributing prior to that date, they won’t have to contribute in retirement.
The contracts for 2016 and 2017 call for employees who make less than $65,000 annually to contribute 10 percent toward their benefits package. Those making over $65,000 will kick in 15 percent.
The new CBA also provides some salary increases. Retroactively, the years 2013 and 2014 include a 2 percent raise; 2015 includes a 3 percent raise (to offset the newly required benefits contribution); 2016 has a 2 percent raise; and 2017 includes a 2.5 increase.
Schneider said that the retroactive raises for 2013-15 contract years will be paid to the workers in a lump sum, but it won’t impact the town’s budget because money had already been set aside in anticipation of those pay hikes.
Schneider said he was pleased with the way the CSEA team negotiated.
“We were very impressed with the approach the CSEA used,” he said. “It was just what we asked for—to be creative and fair. We all feel it’s a fair deal.”
Schneider said he wouldn’t call the deal “a financial saver” for the town, but it treats the employees fairly, which he said was important.
“There are actually people who are now paying less [toward benefits] than before the contract,” he noted. “It’s not really what I’d called a financial saver; it was more about our approach to fairness. We do see pay raises [in the contract] that go above 2 percent (the state-imposed tax cap), but we think it’s a fair contract.”
Calls to Joe Harman, president of Local 1000, asking for comment on the new deal, were not returned by press time.
The town is also working on a new contract with the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters), which includes primarily highway department employees. The IBT has been without a contract since its last one expired on Dec. 31, 2011.
“They have been without a contract for a long time,” Schneider said. “We would like to get a new one done [for multiple years].”