BUFFALO, NY-- CSEA Local #815 overwhelmingly rejected the latest contract offer from Erie County on Friday. This is third time they have rejected a tentative agreement since 2007.
1,296 voted no, 570 voted yes and three votes were disqualified.
"We brought the tentative agreement to our membership and they have spoken by voting 1,296 no votes to 570 yes votes," said CSEA Erie County Local President Joan Bender in a statement. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he is disappointed.
The five-year contract offer from the county included a boost in wages by 11.5 percent and would have required union members to pay more for health insurance.
It also would have eliminated the controversial massage and acupuncture benefit from the lowest cost health insurance option.
CSEA Local 815 President Joan Bender told 2 On Your Side earlier this week that she was cautiously optimistic that members would approve the pact, noting that past contract proposals have been rejected under County Executive Mark Poloncarz and former county executive Chris Collins. But, Bender said some of the workers were upset that there was nothing offered for the years since the end of 2006 when their prior contract expired.
Erie County Labor Relations Director David Palmer says they would like to seek state mediation to come up with a contract. But he says that would first require the county legislature to review and act on a fact finding report which came in on the original 2007 contract negotiations. Palmer also points out that funding from the control board which was originally available for retro pay compensation was instead used to work out an agreement with corrections officers in the county.
Palmer says the county must also get a handle on benefit costs for union coverage plans like health care as costs continue to go up.