MERCER COUNTY Commissioners OK 4-year pact for workers

Employees will also pay more money for their health insurance.
MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County commissioners approved a four-year union contract Thursday that gives approximately 44 county employees a total 2.25 percent raise over four years.
The United Steelworkers Local includes employees at the courthouse, county bridge department and soil conservation office.
Director of Administrative Services Bill Boyle announced that the raises begin with a 45-cent hourly increase retroactive to July 1 and are spread through the term of the contract. In addition, an annual 10-cent hourly longevity increase will be added at the end of this year and for the next two years.
Employees will also receive an immediate shift differential amounting to 25 cents hourly for afternoon and 20 cents for midnight shifts. On Jan. 1, that will increase to 30 and 25 cents and remain at those levels through 2008.
Employees also agreed to increase contributions to their health insurance premiums. The current rate is $20 per pay. The new rates follow, with the rate for a single person followed by the rate for family coverage: 2005 - $25, $30; 2006 - $30, $40; 2007 - $35, $50; and 2008 - $40, $60.
Boyle said the union also agreed to go with another health-care broker, who carries the same insurance, at a cost savings to the county.
The contract leaves some 41 members of another USWA bargaining unit who work at the E-911 Center and the sheriff's department as the last unionized employees still without a contract. Boyle would give no details on the status of those negotiations.
Technology company
Also Thursday, commissioners bought a $254,897 software license and system maintenance agreement from Government e-Management Solutions, St. Louis, for financial, payroll and human resources use. Mercer County Controller Tom Amundsen said the package will allow integration of budgeting, accounting and payroll functions and give access to "real time" data. He said the current software is 9 years old and beyond its reasonable life expectancy, as well as being inefficient and difficult to use. The annual maintenance agreement includes regular upgrades, he said. An additional $25,470 in hardware and software will be purchased separately by the county for implementation of the new system.
Various tasks
In other business, commissioners:
UAccepted the low bid of Shingledecker's Welding Inc., Franklin, for repairs to bridges on Black Run and Amsterdam Roads, Liberty Township for $153,005. County Engineer Mark Millers said the bridges will remain open for most of the repairs which will begin Aug. 29 and are expected to be completed Sept. 30.
UHired Cynthia Orpen of New Castle, as a full-time assistant district attorney at $43,523. District Atty. James Epstein said filling of the recently vacated position keeps staffing in his office at the current level of five full- and six part-time attorneys.
UHired Sarah Racz of Greenville as temporary special project clerk for the treasurer's office at $9.43 hourly.
UIncreased mileage reimbursement for county employees driving personal vehicles on county business from 32 cents to 35 cents, with a 1-cent increase each year through 2008.

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