County CSEA contract to head to Legislature

MAYVILLE — The largest collective bargaining unit representing Chautauqua County employees may soon have a new, one-year contract extension.

Pending approval of the County Legislature next Wednesday, a one-year contract extension for the Civil Service Employees Association Local 807 – Unit 6300 was discussed and ultimately approved to move forward to the legislature by the legislative Audit and Control Committee on Thursday morning.

The tentative agreement was ratified recently by the CSEA with a vote of 343 “Yes” votes to 208 “No” votes, according to the group’s Facebook.

Legislators heard a presentation by County Executive Vince Horrigan, Finance Director Kitty Crow and Director of Human Resources Jessica Wisniewski. Committee Chairman Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, said the tentative agreement had been placed on the committee’s desks that morning. “I’m pleased to be talking about this,” Wisniewski said, adding that the process to get to that point had taken some time.

Wisniewski said the idea was to get a good balance between what was good for the employees and what was good for the taxpayers. She said the agreement included a 2-percent wage increase and a change to insurance plans.

Also included in the agreement is an incentive to switch plans from a Preferred Provider Organization Plan to a high-deductible plan in which the deductible would be paid for the first year by the county. All new hires would only have the option of a high-deductible plan.

Wisniewski said having the first year with the deductible being paid will allow the employees to build up their health savings accounts.

Crow said anyone continuing on the high-deductible health insurance plan would prove to be a savings for the county in expense after the first year because the county would no longer cover the deductible cost at that point.

“It’s only going to be a plus from here,” she said.

Wisniewski said with a change in county and union leadership, it made more sense to look at a one-year extension over a two-or-three year extention.

Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, said he had a few questions regarding the extension and if a person could switch back to the PPO plan after a year. Crow said a person could switch back after the year.

Nazzaro said he would be more comfortable if once a person had switched to the high-deductible plan, they would remain on that plan. He said he was not saying he is against the tentative agreement, but was merely giving his observations. He said he was unaware that the contract would be presented at that time and asked if any consideration was given to two or three year agreements instead.

“I didn’t know this was going to be on here,” Nazzaro said of the contract discussion.

In the end, a vote was taken and Nazzaro voted “Yes,” but said it did not mean he wouldn’t have questions later on.

After the meeting, Horrigan thanked both the county and bargaining unit’s negotiating teams. He said he thought it is a “fair and solid” agreement for both employees and taxpayers that he hopes the legislators will pass next week.

“My goal is to leave this county with all labor contracts underway so we don’t have any gaps,” Horrigan said. “This is a very good and fair contract that is in the best interest of the taxpayers and the employees that work so hard for the county government.”