By JOHN BRANDI
On Monday, Aug. 4, the Rye City Council unanimously approved a contract with the Department of Public Works union, CSEA Local 1000, which had been operating under an expired contract since 2011.
The contract was ratified by the union on July 28 and then referred to the City Council for its final approval.
The new contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012. It expires on Dec. 31, 2015.
The Department of Public Works union is the city’s largest with 59 employees and second in terms of payroll, according to City Manager Frank Culross.
The recent agreement had to address retroactive payroll. Culross said the salary increases going forward will cover “employees who are still on payroll and the retroactive hours worked” for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Wage increases for 2012 and 2013 will be 2 percent, 2.5 percent for 2014 and there will be a 2.5 percent increase for 2015 that will take effect on Jan. 1 of next year.
The contract also covers health care and benefits.
“For the first time, all employees in the unit will pay a portion of health [benefit premiums] up to a total of 5 percent of their total salary,” Culross said.
Prior to this, some employees hired before Jan. 1, 1990, were paying only up to 4 percent of their total salary to health care. That situation applies to nine people on the current DPW payroll. The new contract will bring this number up to 5 percent for all employees no matter the hire date, according to the city manager.
This measure will take effect immediately, according to the agreement.
In terms of health insurance, employees covered by their own health plan can opt out of the city plan through a buyout option. The buyout “shall be 25 percent of the employer’s net savings” and will be pro-rated throughout the year to give the employee the option to re-enroll.
The new contract addresses the situation if an employee dies while on the job. This was taken into consideration after a former Building Inspector Vincenzo Tamburro died from a heart attack while inspecting building structures in the days following Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, Culross said. The new DPW contract extends coverage to spouses and dependents until alternative coverage is found or when dependents reach a “maximum age” and are no longer eligible.
Culross said “maximum age” is defined by the guidelines in the federal Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 and can depend on a number of situations such as enrollment status in school.
“Hopefully [this is] a provision that is never used,” the city manager said.
The vision and hearing plans will be retroactively paid out by the union as set by rates established in 2012. Culross said the union keeps the going rates at that time and current rates will reflect those numbers, but the city manager said he did not know what the current rates are.
The two city unions that are still without new contracts are the Rye Professional Firefighters Association and the CSEA clerical unit, both of which are expired; in 2009 and 2013, respectively.
Alisa Cagle, CSEA labor relations specialist, could not be reached for comment as of press time.