AUGUSTA — City councilors approved new three-year contracts with six of the city’s eight union employee bargaining units Thursday.
The contracts will provide those represented employees with raises of 1.5 percent this year, 2 percent next year and 2.5 percent in 2016, according to Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager.
Employees represented by the six bargaining units include police supervisors, patrol officers, general government workers, public safety dispatchers, Augusta Civic Center maintenance workers and public works workers.
The two remaining units without a new contract represent firefighters, ambulance crews and fire battalion chiefs. St. Pierre said negotiations are underway with those two units as well.
St. Pierre and William Bridgeo, city manager, said members of the bargaining units — five of which are represented by Teamsters Local 340, and the sixth by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — already have ratified the proposed contracts.
Councilors approved the deals unanimously and without debate Thursday.
Changes to insurance benefits agreed to by the unions in contract negotiations a year ago will continue in the new contracts. The changes gave the employees 2 percent raises but saved the city money overall by reducing insurance premiums, savings expected to continue through the term of the new contracts.
The unions, St. Pierre said, initially sought bigger wage increases but agreed to modest increases because they understood the city’s financial position. Both sides wanted a deal longer than the one-year deals that expire in July.
“In meeting with the unions, the shop stewards all recognized the financial condition of the city, the loss of revenue sharing funds and the difficult budget process you’re going into,” St. Pierre said. “So they brought their expectations for a wage adjustment down to within council guidelines.”
Ed Marzano, business agent for Teamsters Local 340, confirmed, prior to the meeting, unit members had voted to approve the deals.
“No concessions and a three-year deal, that’s a good thing,” Marzano said Tuesday. “A three-year deal is definitely what they were looking for. It’s security going forward.”
Bridgeo said the raises were within the guidelines city negotiators had been given, ahead of time, by councilors.
Councilors also approved 1.5 percent wage increases for non-union employees, to be effective July 1.
Mayor William Stokes said the city generally awards the same wage adjustments to non-union employees as are given to union employees.
The city has 220 full-time employees and 20 permanent part-time employees. They include 89 in the bargaining units represented by the Teamsters and 41 represented by AFSCME, covered by the contracts approved Thursday.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @kedwardskj