About 2,300 Onondaga County union workers will be compensated for lost wages after a majority of members voted to accept the county’s settlement offer for an Improper Practice charge brought by the union.
The charge stemmed from Onondaga County’s approval of a retroactive, three-year contract back in February. But the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), citing state law, said anything more than a one-year contract can only be put in place if the union agrees to it, which it did not.
Local 834 President Kathy Zabinski said she and other members feel the long process was worth the wait.
“Based on the vote, I would say ‘Yes, (the results were worth the wait),” Zabinki said. “I got a lot of calls yesterday thanking us for everything that went on because they appreciate the money and the money-only offer. It’s helping them tremendously since not having a pay raise since 2012.”
Local 834 members have rejected three contract offers over 18 months. Zabinski said the main sticking point was employee’s share of health care costs, which would have canceled out any salary increases.
With this “wages only” settlement in place, Zabinski said she views the agreement as a success because members had the opportunity to make their voices heard.
“We reinforced our rights as a union when we filed the improper practice charges,” Zabinksi said. “The membership was allowed to vote, the membership was allowed to meet as a union, to make these decisions. Those are big fights, big wins.”
CSEA members have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in December of 2012. Zabinski said if this new agreement is approved, the union will meet to negotiate future contracts.
“We start talking to the membership again and putting surveys out and seeing what they would like in a contract, and we’ll be contacting the county to start saying ‘Let’s get back to the table,’” Zabinski said.
Now that union members have accepted the settlement, Onondaga County lawmakers and the county executive need to sign off. Once approved, the union will then be able to negotiate further contracts for 2016 and beyond.