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City of Hagerstown freezes pay for union employees

Hagerstown Police union employees will also lose nonholiday double-time pay

June 21, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

Unionized employee pay in the city of Hagerstown will remain frozen for the next two years.

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday approved new two-year contracts for its four collective-bargaining units.

All four contracts keep pay unchanged for union employees starting July 4, and continuing through June 30, 2013, according to city documents.

The contracts freeze pay steps for the city's union employees, did not include cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, and gradually reduced sick leave payout at retirement to an eventual $12,000 maximum, the documents said.

Each bargaining group worked with the city to reach agreements that respect the state of the economy and the city's need to stay within the constraints of its approved budget, the documents said.

City Human Resources Director Donna Frazier wrote in comments to the council Tuesday that all five employee groups — including nonunion employees — share common ground as employees work outside their job descriptions to accommodate less staff positions.

At the negotiating table, each bargaining group debated, compromised and came together with the city to draft agreements both sides could accept, she wrote.

In addition to the pay freezes accepted by all four city unions, employees in the Hagerstown Police union — American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3373 — also will lose nonholiday double-time pay in the new contract, according to city documents.

General labor employees of the city, represented by AFSCME Local 1540, will face significant reduction in the opportunity for double-time pay, the documents said.

Reaching a two-year contract agreement was a significant achievement for the city, Frazier said.

Rather than go through lengthy negations next year, when the city's financial situation is not projected to improve, all parties at the table agreed to contracts for two years knowing that pay raises were not going to be a viable option in fiscal year 2013, she said.

Wayne Hose, president of the police union, said that given the current financial condition of the city, the contracts signed Tuesday were the best negotiators could have reached.

"The financial condition of the city is what it is," Hose said. "We don't expect the city to raise taxes so we can have pay increases."

Agreeing on a two-year contract hopefully allows time for the economy to improve and for there to be more leeway in negotiating future pay increases, he said.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood thanked city staff and union negotiators for reaching a reasonable solution.

Councilman Martin Brubaker said the union agreements were incredible for two years of commitment.

The contracts help pave the way for the city to get a better handle on its finances in the next two years, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

All four of the contracts were signed Tuesday by representatives of each union and members of the city council.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner was absent.

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