Borough approves new agreement with clerks

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NAUGATUCK — The borough hopes to see savings on health care costs thanks to a new contract with the clerk’s union.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted to approve a new collective bargaining agreement with the United Public Service Employees Union, which represents, clerical workers at a special meeting Sept. 29.

The agreement starts retroactively from July 1 and runs through June 30, 2014. The agreement is similar to one approved with the Visiting Nurse Association in August, according to Mayor Robert Mezzo.

“The agreement, which combines modest pay increases with significant health care savings, represents another step toward a more sustainable local government,” Mezzo wrote on his blog.

The borough should see nearly $54,000 in health insurance savings over the next three years, according to a fiscal analysis provided by borough controller Wayne McAllister.

Under the new health care plan, insurance costs will go up about $22,000 this year compared to nearly $38,000 if the contract had remained the same.

Borough clerical workers will have a choice between a preferred provider plan and a high deductible plan combined with a health savings account.

The PPO plan premium will increase from 8 percent to 11.5 percent by 2013.

The HSA plan will not include a premium cost share this year, but members will pay 4 percent, then 6 percent of the premium cost in the following two years. Under the high deductible plan, the deductible will increase over the next three years from 25 percent to 50 percent.

No changes were made to the pension benefits for clerical workers. The union and town previously agreed to put new employees in a defined contribution plan.

Under the new agreement, wages for clerical workers will increase 2.15 percent for the first two years, and 2.2 percent the last year of the agreement.

Over the duration of the contract, wages will in increase almost $156,000 for the union’s 37 employees.
Overall, the borough will pay nearly $252,000 more over the life of the contract due to increases in health care, life insurance, and wages.

Mezzo said the agreement focused specifically on heath care. The bargaining unit did not previously have a high deductable and health savings account plan in place.

“Not only were we successful in negotiating that as an option but also moving the contributions from employees to a responsible percentage by the third year of the agreement,” Mezzo said.

The focus on health care rather than wage increases has been a hallmark of Mezzo’s negotiating philosophy.
“Across the entire country, your health care savings are measured in reductions of increasing costs,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo wrote on his blog that the borough’s clerical employees are essential to the town’s operation.

“While their wages are relatively lower than many other borough employees, UPSEU members continuously demonstrate a tremendous work ethic while providing professional and courteous service to Naugatuck residents and businesses,” Mezzo wrote.

The board also approved a new police agreement Thursday. Check back on www.mycitizensnews.com for more details soon.

“We’re very grateful to both the clerical bargaining unit and the police bargaining unit for working through a lot of complexities in a very respectful and professional manner. Both agreements represent sound long term fiscal principals and help us move towards a more sustainable fiscal government moving forward,” Mezzo said.