The Town of Greece is pleased to announce that a settlement agreement has been reached for a new collective bargaining agreement with the Uniformed Patrolmen’s Association. UPA is the union representing the Town’s police officers, which will be effective January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2023. The Town is also pleased to be able to settle the labor contract with its police officers before the current contract expires on December 31, 2018. Supervisor Bill Reilich and his management team were able to negotiate with the police officer’s union to acknowledge the immense value that the police officers provide to our community while also respecting that the taxpayers pay for employee salary and benefits. It is a steadfast focus of Supervisor Reilich’s to balance the employee benefit packages and the Town’s obligation to be careful stewards of taxpayer resources. The Town is very pleased that the union and management were able to reach an agreement in an expedited fashion over a matter of only a few weeks. This type of efficiency is possible when both sides approach contract negotiations collaboratively, realistically, and with the acute consideration that all Town employees are guardians of the public finances.
“The impact on taxes is a critical consideration in everything we do, including negotiating labor contracts” said Supervisor Reilich.
The agreement has been presented to the full union membership and has received a supportive vote of the Town’s police officers. The agreement has now been approved by the full Town Board at its meeting on November 14th, 2018.
This historic labor agreement provides for wage increases for employees that are well below the tax cap ceiling and also creates tremendous flexibility for the Town administration to put in place innovative health care solutions utilized more in the private sector than in the public sector. Specifically, the police officers’ union has agreed to convert all officers from costly co-pay health insurance plans into more economical and contemporary High Deductible Health Plans. This historic labor agreement also provides for the Town administration to implement other management rights that had been succeeded to the union by prior administrations.
“The deal strikes fairness for our valued Town employees and the taxpayers of the Town of Greece. The Town administration understands the need to be cognizant of the economic circumstances of our Town taxpayers when we negotiate with the labor unions. After years and years of this Town raising wages to well above County averages, since I first took office I have been committed to providing fair and modest wage increases to Town employees and looking for health care innovations in an effort to save the taxpayers money while continuing to provide robust benefits for our employees, which is possible with creativity, planning, and sound fiscal management. Today, the Town’s wage scales are more aligned with other local municipalities, not completely out of alignment as they were historically.” Said Supervisor Reilich.
“I am very proud that the Town negotiating team and the union negotiating team were able to work quickly, be practical, and reach a compromise in an expedited manner as I directed. It is my priority to have the Town administration team and our workforce focused on providing quality services to the public, not on being wrapped up in union contract negotiations for lengthy periods of time. Moreover, health insurance is a topic of national attention because the costs of health care are rising drastically every year not only in Monroe County but throughout our great nation. Through the creative solutions offered by the Town and accepted by our police officers, the Town of Greece will be spending significantly less on health insurance premiums in 2019 than we did in 2018. That’s impressive in light of the 10% and higher health plan cost increases that most employers are facing in 2019. I am thankful that the police officers’ union leadership took the time to understand the enormous burden and expense that health insurance places on our Town budget. The new high deductible plans create a fair and cost-effective solution to the increasing costs of health insurance.” Supervisor Reilich added.
This settlement is both an innovative and economical deal for the Town, especially compared to area settlements which typically exceed the 2% tax cap for wage settlements and continue to allow employees to pay very small percentages of Cadillac-type health insurance plans. Notably, the union that represents the Town’s command staff officers who are in a separate union converted to these more sustainable and cost-effective health plans earlier this year.
This deal saves the taxpayers of the Town of Greece $85,000 to $142,000 per year, more than a million dollars over the contract term, when the wage packages in this settlement are compared to typical area public sector settlements of 3% to 4% increases. The deal saves hundreds of dollars per employee health plan every month and will avoid substantial cost increases and Affordable Care Act taxes that are expected to be a factor with respect to the co-pay plans that the police officers will be exiting. The Town’s retiree health insurance costs will also dramatically decrease since officers will be enrolled in the high deductible plans in retirement.
Specific terms of the agreement include:
- 1.5% wage increase for 2019, 2020, and 2021, and 1.75% wage increases for 2022 and 2023, keeping wage increases below 2% in each year of the agreement.
- Completely eliminating the high-cost co-pay plans.
- Converting all officers into high deductible health plans which cost the Town hundreds of dollars less per month per officer.
Additionally, as part of this settlement, the Town negotiated flexibility for the Police Department in a few key areas: flexibility to provide more training to new and experienced police officers without incurring overtime expenses and flexibility to fill vacancies based on performance and qualifications rather than by seniority, which was the typical practice under prior administrations.
“We bring good old fashioned common sense to these contract negotiations. We cannot keep agreeing to status quo in these economic times - our contracts must be sustainable. None of these accomplishments would be possible without reasonable union negotiating teams and hardworking management staff. The Town thanks its police officer unions and their fine negotiating teams, the Chief of Police, the Town’s Personnel Director, and the Finance Director for their excellent work in accomplishing these practical and innovative settlements. Settling these agreements expeditiously allows all of us at the Town to focus on providing the best services we can to the public.” Concluded Supervisor Reilich.