MAHONING COUNTY Fact finder report rejected

Both sides were unhappy with the fact finder's report, so they rejected it.
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's back to the bargaining table for Mahoning County commissioners and union employees of the county's Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Commissioners rejected a fact finder's report Thursday regarding contract negotiations with Teamsters Local 377, which represents 17 CSEA attorneys and supervisors. The union also rejected the report Thursday afternoon, said Robert Bernat, field representative.
Bernat said the union employees felt too many of the report's findings went against them.
The union's last three-year contract expired June 30 and employees have worked without once since then. The matter went before a fact finder in August, and his report was received earlier this month, said Connie Pierce, county human resources director.
One of the sticking points is an employee copayment toward health insurance premiums. Commissioners have insisted that all county contracts include a 10-percent copayment, which the union resisted.
Fact finder's suggestion
County Administrator Gary Kubic said the fact finder does recommend an employee copayment, but only 5 percent for the first year and 10 percent in the second year and thereafter.
And while the county had proposed a one-year wage freeze with a clause to reopen wage negotiations in July 2004, the union sought "significant wage enhancements," the report says.
As a compromise, the fact finder recommended a 1-percent cost-of-living raise in the first year with an agreement that no other county bargaining unit would get a higher increase during that time.
Kubic said because employees are laid off from CSEA, the county can't justify granting raises to remaining employees. Workers were laid off earlier this year because of budget cuts.
Pierce said the union now could issue a strike notice.
"We're not going to do that right away," Bernat said. "We'll sit down with the commissioners and see if we can work this out. But if it eventually comes down to a strike notice, we'll do what we have to do."

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