New contract for public works employees in place



NAUGATUCK — The borough and the public works collective bargaining unit have come to terms on a new three-year deal.  

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved the contract at its Feb. 4 meeting. The union, AFSCME AFL-CIO Local 1303-12, ratified the agreement in January.

The deal is for three years, beginning retroactively from July 1, 2012 and running to June, 30, 2015.

Mayor Robert Mezzo detailed the terms of the agreement on his blog.

The contract includes wage increases of 2.15 percent in each of the first two years of the deal and 2.2 percent in the final year.

The deal also includes health care changes that increase the costs for workers.

The premium cost share for union members in the preferred provider organization plan will increase to 11.5 percent on July 1, 2014. The cost share increased, retroactively, to 9 percent on Jan. 1, 2013 and to 10 percent on July 1, 2013.

The premium cost share and deducible will also increase for those members in the health savings account.

Under the terms of the contract, members paid a 2 percent premium cost share of the HSA retroactively to Jan. 1, 2013. That percentage rose to 4 percent on Jan. 1, 2014 and will increase to 6 percent on Jan. 1, 2015.

The contract increases the deductible paid toward the plan for members in the HSA as well. Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013 members paid 30 percent of the deductible. The figure increased to 40 percent effective Jan. 1 of this year and will go up to 50 percent on Jan. 1, 2015.

Mezzo wrote on his blog the changes in health benefits represent significant cost savings over the life of the contract. A cost analysis of the savings was not provided by the finance department, he said, as the borough is currently renegotiating its health benefit rates and seeking bids from alternative carriers.

The analysis was not provided “due to the volatility of the premium renewal figures already provided by the existing carrier, and the uncertainty of alternative pricing structures being solicited,” Mezzo wrote.

A fiscal analysis, which does not include the anticipated savings from the health care changes, puts the net life-of-the-contract cost at roughly $169,000.

The contract includes several other changes.

An allowance for cleaning, clothing and safety increased from $850 to $950, and meal allowance payments went up from $6 to $8.

The agreement also establishes a drug and alcohol free workplace policy that includes random testing for all employees; clarifies the borough’s right to install a GPS or cameras in borough facilities or vehicles; limits the amount of unused sick time an employee can be compensated for after leaving the job to 90 days for an existing employee and 30 days for a new employee; increases the probationary period of new employees from 90 to 120 days.

“We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment demonstrated by our public works employees on a daily basis. Their job requires hard work, long hours and is often performed in extreme weather conditions. While their collective contributions often go unnoticed and, in my opinion, underappreciated, Naugatuck could literally not function without them,” Mezzo wrote.