Last updated: February 06. 2014 4:41PM - 628 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Approximately 70 union employees with Allen County Job and Family Services agreed to a new three-year contract which pays them a bonus in 2014, but the workers could see their 2015 and 2016 pay revert to their 2013 salary.

Allen County Job and Family Services Director Steve Barker received approval from the Allen County commissioners Thursday on the agreement which is retroactive to Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31, 2016.

Barker explained the union workers will receive a 3 percent bonus in 2014 and not a salary increase. The contract calls for the workers to receive no increase in 2015 and 2016, reverting to their 2013 salary, but there is a provision in the contract to have both sides review wages prior to last two years of the contract to see if money exists in the department’s budget for bonuses or salary increases.

“We will consider what our money situation is at that time and what we can do for them at that time,” Barker said. “The funds are tight, and I don’t think you will find anybody else who will tell you differently along those lines. We feel that we have this covered, although we are watching very closely how we spend our money and how it comes in.”

Barker explained constant changes in state financial support of county programming prompts local officials to watch their budget closely and “that is one of the big reasons we did not want to extend ourselves or make any big commitments beyond this year for the next two years. We simply want to wait and see what our funding sources are going to be like.”

Barker said 85 percent of their funds comes from the federal government either directly or flowing through the state. They receive most of the remaining 15 percent from the state and the county.

Officials with the Communications Workers of America Local 4319, which represents the union members, said they understand the county agency’s financial difficulties, but they believe their workers deserved more pay.

“Times are tough, and we recognize that,” Local 4319 President Robert Hall said. “It is not only tough for the county, but it is tough for the employees. Our people have been doing more work because our numbers are down and basically have not received wage increases to keep up with the cost of living.

“It is a very difficult place to work during very difficult times, and we would have liked to have more, but we recognize that there is not a whole lot more to give,” he said. “We are not happy with it, but we accepted it.”

Barker and Hall said employees have not received wage step increases since the beginning of the previous contract, which was in effect from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2013.

During Thursday’s meeting with the commissioners, Barker also presented commissioners with an agreement covering non-union workers, who also received a 3 percent bonus for 2014. He said this covers management and a few staff members.

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