Another Butler County union agrees to commissioners’ raise plan

Another Butler County union has agreed to the commissioners’ pay for performance plan, as the Water and Sewer Department recently ratified a new deal after a 10-month negotiation.

The 74 union workers agreed to the commissioners’ plan, which annually provides up to 2 percent raises and an additional lump sum payout, up to 2 percent, both based on merit. The new three-year contract will cost an estimated $394,440, according to the county’s Human Resources Department. It is retroactive to the end of January, when the old deal expired.

“It wasn’t an easy negotiation, but there are tough negotiations in this day and age anymore,” W&S Union chief Jay Long said. “We got a contract, we got it passed, we did go to the merit system two-plus-two, and it was ratified after 10 long months of negotiations.”

Water and Sewer Department Director Martha Shelby said the union had a version of merit pay in the last contract but it wasn’t as complete as this program. The union workers all received 2 percent pay hikes, and an additional half percent was available in merit pay.

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The union was originally seeking a straight 4 percent pay hike. Shelby said a mediator was used to facilitate talks and that the new deal is fair to both sides.

“I think it was a good negotiation,” Shelby said. “At the end of the day we both gave some and gained some. The two-and-two was very important to us and that’s where we gained. The union gained a little bit in some areas as well. It was a long, drawn-out process but at the end of the day my feeling is both sides are better off than we were before.”

The county commissioners have worked for years to get the entire county to use the pay-for-performance plan, an effort that in part has allowed the commissioners to erase all general fund debt by the end of next year.

In the last decade, Butler County payroll has dropped 6.3 percent, much of that because the government has 561 fewer employees. But county officials also point to cost controls and the merit pay plan that could save $120 million over 10 years.

Commissioner T.C Rogers said the latest union deal with Water and Sewer workers continues the successful path the county is following.

“This is just another example that each of the various groups have learned from the original groups that the pay plans the commissioners have suggested actually have been fair,” Rogers said. “And with this helping to pay our debt off, we can look forward to the type of resources to take our county to the next level.”

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