Contract approved for Mercer youth services

Contract negotiations continue with the USWA.
MERCER, Pa. -- Employees at Mercer County Children and Youth Services have a new four-year contract that calls for them to pay a greater portion of their health insurance premiums.
The county commissioners approved a contract Thursday with Local 668 of the Pennsylvania Social Services Union, which represents about 28 caseworkers and clerical staff at the county agency.
The employees will receive a 30-cent hourly wage increase for each of the four years of the contract, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2005, making the average increase over the four years 2.14 percent, Boyle said.
He added that employees will continue to pay 10 percent of their health coverage premium this year, with that amount rising one percent each year and reaching 13 percent in the fourth year of the contract.
Other contract changes include an increase from $250 to $290 weekly for the amount paid to on-call workers; an increase from 32 cents per mile to 35 cents in 2005 and rising one cent each year; and starting in 2006, a $125 annual stipend for employees who have reached the maximum salary for their position.
Boyle said CYS workers have been negotiating with the county since October. Boyle and Fiscal Administrator John Logan represented the county in negotiations.
Negotiations continue and a vote is scheduled for next week for a contract with the United Steelworkers of America, which represents 85 employees in the sheriff's department, the Emergency 911 staff and other county employees, Boyle said.
Voting machines
In other matters, the commissioners expressed concern that the state will not meet a September deadline for deciding which voting machines will be acceptable in Pennsylvania.
Commissioners have been waiting for that determination because they need it before they decide what voting system to buy for Mercer County. A computerized touch-screen voting system the county bought several years ago was decertified this spring by the state and can no longer be used.
Commissioner Michele Brooks had stated earlier this week that she had a call in to Michael Shamos, a consultant who is conducting the testing, after learning he does not feel he can complete his study by September.
Brooks said, however, that she contacted state officials and learned they may give Shamos another person to help with the certification in order to speed it along.

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