Union pact OK'd giving 20 Northumberland County workers raises
SUNBURY - Northumberland County commissioners unanimously approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement Tuesday with non-court related employees that calls for a 35-cent per hour raise each year and requires the workers to pay less toward health care.
Approving the pact, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, were Commissioners Vinny Clausi, Richard Shoch and Stephen Bridy.
County human resources director Joseph Picarelli said the agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO Local 2016, Council 86, covers 20 employees in various positions, including maintenance, weatherization and clerical.
In addition to the hourly increase, Picarelli said the agreement calls for employees to pay only 10 percent toward health care, which is less than what they were paying under their former contract.
Picarelli thanked the union for its cooperation during negotiations, which he said were cordial.
The board once again passed a resolution abolishing the positions of two county jury commissioners in accordance with Gov. Tom Corbett's recent bill to abolish the post.
The position of jury commissioner will not be on the ballot for the May 21 primary election despite a previous decision by the state Supreme Court to overturn a law allowing the abolition of the posts.
In January 2012, Clausi, Shoch and Bridy agreed to eliminate the office held by Democrat George "Norge" Dorko and Republican Samuel Deitrick, a former county commissioner. But the abolition of the posts wasn't scheduled to take effect until Dec. 31, 2013, when their terms expire.
On March 14, the state Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional after finding that the authority given to county commissioners under Act 108 to abolish the positions was improperly added to an original bill that was designed only to give the county commissioners the power to hold private property and farm surplus auctions online.
Act 108, which was born as House Bill 1644, initially only addressed the online auctions. The provision for allowing abolition of jury commissioners was added to it when the measure went to the Senate. The revised bill was passed by the Senate in late 2011 and was promptly signed into law by Corbett before it was later challenged.
The commissioners agreed to extend the deadline to accept proposals for upgrades to the county communications center until May 20 in an effort to attract competitive bids that could possibly reduce the cost of the project.
The commissioners passed a resolution to have Doli Construction Corp. remove a pedestrian bridge on Mulberry Street in the Fifth Ward of Shamokin that was heavily damaged by the Flood of 2011. The bridge is expected to be replaced by the end of the year.
On a 2-1 vote, the board approved a proposal from Olcese Plumbing and Heating not to exceed $18,999 to replace the coal boiler at the weatherization building with a gas-fired steam boiler.
Bridy said changing the heating system to gas will save the county a significant amount of money. He and Shoch approved the move, while Clausi voted "no." Clausi agreed that changing over to gas will save the county money, but believes the project should be paid by the state rather than with money from the county general fund since the weatherization department is funded through the state and federal governments.
Connie Tressler of Herndon and Frances Brennan of Shamokin were re-appointed and appointed, respectively, to the Behavioral Health & Intellectual Developmental Services Advisory Board for a term that will expire Dec. 31, 2014.
Northumberland County Chief Assessor Al Bressi was presented a certificate by the commissioners for being named "Employee of the Month" for May.
Bressi also received the Garrity Award on April 13 from the Assessor Association of Pennsylvania at its annual conference. The award is given to someone who is active in projects and committees and makes the association and local chapters better.
He is vice president of the North Central Chapter and serves on the board of governors on the state level. He has been in the assessment field since 1996 and returned to county employment in August 2009.
Shoch presented a proclamation to Jeremy Frits, secretary of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Sunbury, for the nonprofit organization's continual involvement in the community since being chartered in 1903.
The Eagles organization donated more than $60,000 in 2012 to nonprofit groups and charities throughout the region.
The proclamation by the commissioners also designated May 4, 2013, as "Fraternal Order of Eagles, Sunbury Aerie 503 Day."