By PHIL NOBILE
The Town of Harrison has reached its second union agreement in two weeks, the latest with the Local 456 chapter of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The union, made up of about 90 members, had been without a new contract since the prior terms expired on Dec. 31, 2010.
“You can always get more, but we’re satisfied,” Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, said. “It’s a fair deal.”
The agreement with the Teamsters, which lasts until Jan. 1, 2017, marks the second union contract completed in the month of October. On Oct. 3, the town struck a deal with the Civil Service Employees Association, which consists of more than 60 Harrison members.
Two unions remain without new contracts in the town, the Harrison Fire Department and the CSEA Foremen, which consist of four members and 14 members respectively. The Police Benevolent Association renewed its contract in 2012.
“Our goal is to have everyone’s done as quickly as possible, but you never know,” Christopher Cipolla, the deputy village attorney said. “No one union is the same. Everyone has their different issues.”
With the new deal comes various changes in wages and healthcare, but primarily to benefits for new employees, or employees hired after Jan. 1, 2013.
Wages for employees who were part of the bargaining unit before the January date will receive retroactive payment in the form of three separate checks for a 6 percent increase dating back to Jan. 1, 2011. Following this year, 2 percent increases will be doled out annually, ending with a 1.75 percent increase in the final year of the contract.
New employees, though, will receive 80 percent of their job classification’s wage rate, or whatever amount a current employee in the same position is making, for their first four years of employment with the town.
Healthcare for old employees will remain primarily the same as it was in the expired 2010 contract, except medical buyouts will no longer be offered and ambulatory facilities will be covered.
Employees hired after Jan. 1, 2013, will be required to pay 25 percent of their healthcare costs for the first 15 years of their employment. Similar to the CSEA agreement, employees are not guaranteed healthcare for life after the 15-year period due to “the uncertainty over future health care costs,” according to the memorandum.
Also, like the CSEA agreement, new employees will not be entitled to medical buyouts or Medicare Part B or Part D reimbursement, which deals with covered pay for physician services and medical supplies not covered by Part A and subsidized prescription drugs.
One addition to the Teamsters contract not seen in the other union contracts revolves around retirement and Medicare, as well as replaced rules for sick leave and workers compensation. According to the memorandum, the moment employees become eligible for Medicare, they are required to sign on to it as their primary healthcare, rather than the care provided by the town. If employees fail to do so, the town will recover directly from the retiree.
As for sick leave, the possible abuse of sick leave would be subject to discipline measures by the town which could include discharge. For worker’s compensation and disability, the town will provide coverage.
The Teamsters chapter in Harrison is one of 440 local chapters in the United States. According to the Teamsters website, the wages of their union members are, on average, 27 percent higher than employees without union membership, and 88 percent of union members have healthcare coverage, while 69 percent of non-union workers do not have healthcare.