PARK DEPARTMENT Union gets first contract

Workers should work a rotating schedule to reduce overtime, one trustee said.
AUSTINTOWN --Township trustees have approved the township's first-ever union contract with its park department employees.
The three-year contract, which trustees voted 2-1 to approve Monday night, calls for the four department employees to receive 3 percent raises this year and next year. Foremen and laborers also would receive 3 percent raises in 2006; the salary for a general foreman in 2006 is not set in the contract.
Trustees David Ditzler and Bo Pritchard voted to approve the contract. Trustee Lisa Oles was opposed.
The pact's total cost was not immediately available.
Under the contract, laborers will be paid $13.16 an hour this year, $13.55 next year and $13.96 an hour in 2006, while foremen will be paid $15.62 an hour this year, $16.09 next year and $16.57 in 2006.
General foreman will be paid $18.09 an hour this year and $18.63 an hour next year.
In order to receive insurance coverage from the township, employees will be required to pay $30 per month for a family plan and $20 per month for a single plan. Employees who do not use the township's health-care plan will be paid $100 every other week by the township.
The contract also calls for employees to receive longevity pay, attendance bonuses, and a $750 signing bonus.
Ditzler said the contract was similar to contracts given to employees in other township departments. He added that in an effort to save the township money, trustees did not agree to some union demands, including adding more paid vacation and sick days and increasing the amount the township pays toward each employee's share of their retirement costs.
Union officials could not be reached to comment.
Trustees agreed in January to recognize the park department employees as being represented by Teamsters Local 377.
Ditzler said the union has approved the contract.
Oles disapproves
As Monday's meeting ended, Ditzler asked Oles why she did not express opposition to the contract before it was presented to the union. Oles responded, "I was never in favor of the contract."
"You sure didn't voice any of those opinions when we presented it," Ditzler said.
In an undated memo to her fellow trustees, Oles said she was opposed to several sections of the contract, including a section calling for the union shop steward to receive an additional 25 cents per hour and a section stating that the park employees should have a regular five-day work week.
She said the employees should have a rotating schedule to reduce overtime costs stemming from preparation for weekend events.
Oles' memo also objected to the signing bonus and a section of the contract calling for employees to receive a $350 annual clothing allowance.

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