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Lewis County reaches five-year contract with road patrol

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County has reached a labor agreement with members of its road patrol after more than two years of negotiations.

“It’s certainly gone on long enough,” said Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan. “I’m just delighted that we’ve got it past us. The road patrol provides a vital service to Lewis County.”

County legislators last week signed off on the five-year pact by a 6-3 vote, with Legislators Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen; Philip C. Hathway, R-Harrisville, and Jerry H. King, R-West Leyden, opposed and Richard C. Lucas, R-Barnes Corners, absent.

Then, earlier this week, the vast majority of the roughly 20-member road patrol bargaining unit — which has been working without a contract since Jan. 1, 2011 — voted in support of the plan, according to Calvin L. Farney, president of Civil Service Employees Association Local 825.

“I’m just glad the county and deputies came together so we can continue to serve the people of the county,” Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli said.

While not all lawmakers were delighted with the terms of the new contract, they were satisfied that the matter has been settled, Mr. Tabolt said.

“I would hate to see what Lewis County would be without a road patrol,” he said.

The new contract will offer annual raises of 1.5 percent, retroactive to 2011, while employee contributions to their health insurance premiums on June 1 will increase from 21 to 22 percent and remain at that level through 2015, according to county attorney Richard J. Graham, who handled negotiations on the county’s behalf.

The county covers the balance of monthly premium payments.

New hires also will receive only five years’ worth of step increases, rather than seven, as longevity payments kick in after the fifth year of service for deputies, Mr. Graham said.

Negotiations last year reached an impasse, and the two sides were headed toward interest arbitration in May before the tentative settlement was reached April 2, he said.

However, arbitration would have covered only two years, meaning negotiations would have continued for the current year, Mr. Tabolt said.

“It wasn’t even getting up to date,” he said.

Because of the amount of time that has elapsed since the prior contract expired, it was good to reach a longer-term agreement than the typical three-year pact, Mr. Graham said.

“We’d be right back to the table,” he said.

The county last year settled labor contracts with members of the other two bargaining units, representing about 40 dispatchers and corrections officers and roughly 200 general county workers.

However, because they also took two to three years to settle, both of those contracts will expire at the end of this year.

More than 500 union workers are in negotiations with the county-owned hospital, as their contract expired at the end of 2011.

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