Washtenaw County board approves contracts with concessions
The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved renegotiated contracts Wednesday with 11 of the 17 labor unions that represent the bulk of the county's employees.
The county is trying to fill a $30 million budget deficit for the next two years, due largely to slumping property values and the state’s overall poor economy.
Earlier this month, unions representing court staff, prosecutors, public defenders and nurses all agreed to not take scheduled 3 percent raises over the next two years. They also agreed to take six to eight additional days off without pay.
Four of the furlough - or “bank days” - will be predetermined and will likely be tied to a holiday, county documents show. The others will be spread throughout the year. The pre-determined days will be announced by Dec. 1.
The concessions are expected to save $5.8 million during the contacts' two-year span and 125 to 150 jobs.
The county already saved roughly $2.3 million in deals with non-union employees.
Unions representing county prosecutors and public defenders also conceded on healthcare expenses, and must take six furlough days next year and another seven in 2011. Over two years, the county expects to save $623,000 under the plan.
Despite heavy turnout at recent meetings from angry union officials and concerned citizens, the measure passed without comment from commissioners or the two dozen people in attendance.
“We set our target early, and having a good process really helped us,” Commissioner Conan Smith, D-Ann Arbor, said before the meeting. “We set out to do two things, balance a budget and save as many jobs as possible. And everyone stepped up.”
County Administrator Bob Guenzel said he’s optimistic agreements will be reached soon with the other six labor unions. He expects commissioners to pass a balanced budget next month as scheduled.
Art Aisner is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at email@example.com or 734-623-2530.