County, union agree to contract

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:51 am on Thursday, December 29, 2011

STANTON — The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a new three-year labor contract Wednesday affecting 30 county employees.
Local 3067.03 is affiliated with Michigan Council No. 25 American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
The 30-member group of full-time and part-time employees work in Animal Control, the Commission on Aging, the Clerk’s Office, the Equalization Office, the Maintenance Office, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Register of Deeds Office and the Treasurer’s Office. They don’t include department heads or elected officials.
According to Chapter Chairman Scott Wright, who works in the county maintenance department, union members voted 24-6 to approve the contract, which will be effective Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2014.
Wright negotiated contract terms along with Deb Ballard from the Equalization Office, Teresa Good from the Prosecutor’s Office and Kim Kuhn from the Register of Deeds Office.
According to Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer, the new contract includes the following changes:
• Employees will receive no wage increase in 2012 or 2013 and a 1 percent wage increase in 2014.
• In 2012, employees will pay 15 percent of their own health insurance premium, a 2 percent increase from the current 13 percent. In 2013 and 2014, the co-pay will increase to 20 percent.
•  In 2012, the county will provide a Priority Health insurance high deductible plan with a health savings account. Deductibles of $2,000 or $4,000 for a single individual or family will be funded by the county in amounts of $1,750 or $3,500, respectively, through contributions to the employee’s health savings account.
After deductibles have been met, in-network covered services are paid 100 percent with the exception of prescription drug co-pay. The out-of-pocket maximum is $3,000/$6,000 for in-network deductibles and $3,500/$7,000 for out-of-network deductibles with 80 percent coverage after deductibles have been met with a $5,500/$11,000 out-of-pocket maximum.
•  In 2013 and 2014, the in-network deductibles of $2,000 or $4,000 for a single individual or family will be entirely funded by the county.
•  Employees must take seven unpaid furlough days, including the day after Thanksgiving (a non-paid day), a floating day to be determined employees and their supervisors and five mandatory days — the Friday before Memorial Day, the Friday before Labor Day, Good Friday, March 23 and Aug. 10, 2012, March 22 and Aug. 9, 2013, and Jan. 31 and Aug. 8, 2014.
Wright said the seven furlough days were a more agreeable compromise than a previously discussed 37.5-hour work week as part of $1.3 million in county budget cuts. Wright said the furlough days will cut 56 hours from employee time each year, instead of 130 hours from a 37.5-hour work week.
“I don’t think it’s too bad a deal,” said Wright of the new contract. “We could have fought it, but if we had gone past the Jan. 1 deadline, this new law kicks in where we had to cover all the extra insurance 100 percent until it was ratified.”
Wright only recently became chapter chairman for the union after former chapter chairwoman Barb Udell was laid off from the Register of Deeds Office as part of county budget cuts in October. Wright said he had a good first experience negotiating terms with Hyzer.
“He sees my views and I see his views,” Wright said. “His job is to balance the budget and my job is to get whatever I can for the people.
“I’m hoping that since we took our wage concessions, the rest of the county will follow suit to help with the budget crunch,” Wright added. “It seems like it’s always put on our backs.”


A closer look at Montcalm County Local 3067.03

•  Five- to nine-year employees receive a $200 longevity benefit.
• Ten- to 14-year employees receive a $300 longevity benefit.
• Fifteen- to 19-year employees receive a $400 longevity benefit.
• Twenty-year-plus employees receive a $500 longevity benefit.
* Longevity benefits only apply to employees hired before Dec. 31, 1986. Employees hired after that date are not eligible for longevity benefits.

• Montcalm County provides a pension plan to all employees who were hired before Jan. 1, 2004. Employees are required to contribute 3.5 percent of gross wages to the pension, including health insurance buy-out payments.
• Employees hired after Jan. 1, 2004, participate in the Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan (MERS) and contribute 3.5 percent minimum of gross wages to the pension, including health insurance buy-out payments.

Life insurance
• Montcalm County provides a term life insurance policy in the amount of $10,000 for full-time employees and $5,000 for part-time employees.

• Employees receive eight hours pay on each of the following 13 holidays: Martin Luther King’s birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
* When one of these holidays falls on a Saturday, it’s recognized on the preceding Friday. When one of these holidays falls on a Sunday, it’s recognized on the following Monday.

• One-year employees receive 10 working days’ leave and 80 hours pay.
• Eight-year employees receive 15 working days’ leave and 120 hours pay.
• Fifteen-year employees receive 20 working days’ pay and 160 hours pay.

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