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Montgomery County negotiating contracts

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - Updated: 9:25 PM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- A year and half after their contracts expired, an agreement has been tentatively reached on a new contract for the majority of Montgomery County's employees.

Civil Service Employees Association Local 829 President Edward Russo said the new contract will be presented to the members March 26.

"We give the members a chance to vote, and once they vote, it will pass or it will be shot down. If it gets shot down then it goes back to the table," Russo said Thursday. "We are looking at April 2 to count the ballots."

County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said he is confident negotiations will be completed by the end of March.

"We have reached an agreement throughout our negotiations on a whole host of issues," he said. "Negotiations have gone very well, and we are optimistic of its acceptance by the membership."

CSEA represents the largest bargaining unit in the county, made up of the Montgomery County Department of Public Works and the Department of Social Services, which is why Ossenfort said it is important for an agreement to be reached.

"We need to negotiate the contracts, not to just get the contracts done, but because it provides stability with our employees," he said.

It also provides better management of future budgets.

"Any increases in salary need to be planned for over the next year to five years, and without contracts in place, it provides a dim picture for your financial future," Ossenfort said.

Negotiations have been ongoing since 2013 after employee contracts expired at the end of 2012. Russo said the previous negotiating team, which included the now-defunct Board of Supervisors, "failed to negotiate with us in good faith."

As a result, the two parties reached an impasse; however, Russo said by the time the new county government was in place in January, Ossenfort had set up his own negotiating team.

"Thank god for the new county executive, because we had three meetings and we got this thing accomplished," Russo said. "This should have been done last year with the board of supervisors."

Although the contracts officially expired almost two years ago, Russo said employees continue to work under the same terms as their previous agreement.

Ossenfort and Russo could not disclose the terms of the new contract, but said they were pleased with how the negotiations went.

"It looks like a good contract," Russo said, thanking Ossenfort for the effort. "I think it's great that we have this communication and are working together. Kudos to the county executive for moving this forward."

     

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