Road Commission has three-year contractPublished 10:26pm Thursday, January 26, 2012
CASSOPOLIS—A new three-year contract between the Cass County Road Commission and Teamsters Local Union 214 was signed early in January and replaces a contract that was negotiated in 2007 then extended for a year without changes until June 30, 2011. It includes a work schedule providing coverage for Cass County roads seven days a week during the winter, and health insurance mandating workers to pay 20 percent of the overall insurance costs borne by the road commission.
The winter work shifts are in effect immediately and calls for 17 of the road commission’s road crew to work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Another five crew members are working Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., while five members work Fridays through Sundays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The road commission expects some savings from the new work schedule, especially on wear and tear on the vehicles. With the new contract, “We have at least five employees covering the primary roads on the weekends, whereas no one covered those previously until there was a major snow event,” said Leroy Krempec, chairman of the road commission board.
The changes in the insurance portion of the contract match an edict by Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan Public Act 152, which mandates government employees to pay at least 20 percent toward the cost of their total health care benefits. The changes will become effective on July 1, 2012 when the new insurance plan starts. Under the union’s previous contract, workers paid 15 percent of their monthly health insurance premiums. Before 2007, the road commission paid all monthly premiums on behalf of its workers.
The road commission contracts with Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan for insurance for both union and non-union employees.
Talks with the commission’s nine non-union employees are not yet completed.
While insurance and wages were the major discussion points there were a number of contract language changes which will help the road commission in the future to become for effective.
The contract now allows for team leader positions, more flexibility in assigning equipment, and provisions were added that in certain instances overtime will be mandatory and supervisors can perform union jobs. The contract also allows for a commission-wide shutdown for a week during slow periods with mandatory participation.
New hires under the contract will lose two days of eligible sick time and a provision for early retirement for those workers hired after the year 2000 was eliminated.
Union employees also will receive pay raises under the new contract. These increases will be 1 percent this year, and 2 percent in both 2013 and 2014.
There were no increases in wages in 2011.