JAMESTOWN – A group of about two dozen city of Jamestown employees now have a new contract in place.
On Monday night the Jamestown City Council unanimously approved a new contract agreement with the Jamestown City Administrative Association (JCAA) – which represents about 25-30 mid-level managers, some clerical workers and employees with the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency (JURA).
The contract is partially retroactive and covers the years 2017 and 18, as well as this year. It also covers both 2020 and 21. It was already ratified by the employees union last week.
According to Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, the contract includes no salary increases for 2017, 2018 and 2019 – but does contain a 2 percent increase for both 2020 and 2021. It also slightly adjusts the step structure for the employees, allowing them to be stepped up to the next pay schedule a year earlier than what had been outlined in the previous contract.
More important, according to the mayor, it also makes changes to health insurance offerings for those employees.
“This has been the first collective bargaining unit to agree to a new health care plan,” Teresi explained. “[The current members] will have the opportunity to stay in the city’s self-insured plan that exists right now and that everybody is involved with, or accept a new, higher deductible/lower out-of-pocket premium contribution for any existing worker. They’ve also agreed, as part of this agreement, that any new employee coming into the city’s employment as of January 1, 2020 will only be offered the new plan. So over a period of time, this unit, over a decade or so, will be phasing out of the very, very high-cost self-insured plan, basically the a la cart plan, that has been in place since 1986.”
As a result of the new offering, current employees who chose the new healthcare option can get significantly more net income in their weekly paychecks and the mayor said that could incentivize some of them to move out of the city’s healthcare plan.
Teresi said the change in how healthcare will be delivered to those workers will help the city realize significant savings over the long term. In addition, he hopes the new contract will also set an example for other bargaining units…
“We think that this could be, as the JCAA union members saw, a reasonable and a fair agreement to deal with some of their prominent needs but to also understand the city needs the help of our workforce, not just to deliver services every day, but to coming up with solutions to make sure that the city remains viable,” Teresi said.
There are a total of six bargaining units in the city. With the exception of the JCAA, all others are currently working under expired contracts, with the Police and Fire unions working the longest under expired contracts, which both ended on Dec. 31, 2015.
The effort to finalize a contract with the police union reached an impasse in 2017 and was settled via arbitration. But the city is fighting the arbitration decision, claiming the arbitrators didn’t take into full consideration the city’s financial challenges. As a result, the issue continues to play out in the state court system and will likely have to be settled in state appellate court either later this year or early next year.