Washtenaw County workers union gives up raise to save jobs
Washtenaw County Administrator Bob Guenzel announced Wednesday night that the county's largest union has agreed to make significant concessions over the next two years to help confront major budget shortfalls.
Also at Wednesday's Ways and Means Committee meeting, commissioners agreed to restore planned cuts to human services agencies and will instead make capital expense reductions.
The membership of AFSCME Local 2733 on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved an agreement to not take a previously agreed upon 3 percent raise in 2010 and to forgo a salary adjustment in 2011.
The union also agreed to take eight "bank days" both of those years, which are similar to furlough days, Guenzel said.
"I want to give a special pat on the back to our labor partners," Guenzel said at the county board meeting. "They really came through and, remember, they didn't have to sit down to the table with us at all. They stepped up and, in my mind, really put the county first and put services first."
Guenzel said he's been doing labor relations his entire career and has never seen a union give up a 3 percent raise that was promised under contract. He said the move will save 125 to 150 county jobs and millions of dollars in the county's budget.
"It's a very significant thing," he said. "I'm just very proud of the organization and the union partners."
Guenzel said five bargaining units under AFSCME Local 2733 agreed to the concessions, and six other bargaining units also agreed to similar terms.
Diane Heidt, the county's labor relations director, said the savings through the agreement with Local 2733 total $5.2 million over the next two years. That's within the range county staff had targeted to balance the budget.
The county already worked out $2.3 million in savings through dealings with its nonunion employees.
Heidt said county leaders are still negotiating with six bargaining units, including the AFSCME supervisors union, two Teamsters unions, and the sheriff's deputies and command officers unions.
Guenzel said he would have more to report on negotiations with those unions at the county board's Oct. 21 meeting. At this point, he said, it appears the county will be able to have a balanced budget for 2010-11.
County officials have been working to address a $30 million structural budget deficit, which recently led Guenzel to propose major cuts to county allocations for outside human services organizations.
Commissioner Jeff Irwin, at the Ways and Means Committee meeting, proposed a resolution to lessen the cuts to human services agencies.
Commissioners voted 10-0 on Irwin's resolution to amend the county administrator's recommended 2010-11 budget and restore $442,750 in human services funding that was proposed to be cut. In exchange, the board proposes $450,000 in capital expense reductions.
"The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners realizes that as county revenue shrinks in a flagging economy, so do the needs of our residents increase," reads Irwin's resolution. "Collaboration between Washtenaw County government and our community partners delivers the highest value of services to our citizens at the lowest cost."
Commissioners said the county's investment in nonprofit human service providers has leveraged the county's direct input by attracting additional private, state and federal resources.
Irwin's resolution amends the 2010-11 budget by eliminating $150,000 in 2010 and $300,000 in 2011 for capital projects, leaving $150,000 and zero dollars in those lines for 2010 and 2011, respectively.
That restores the 2011 reductions to outside agencies and continues 2010 recommended funding levels through 2011. But despite the move, human services organizations still will see some reductions in funding compared to their 2009 allocations.
Commissioner Ronnie Peterson was not present during the vote on Irwin's resolution.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at
email@example.com or 734-623-2529.