CSEA members in Erie Co. reject tentative contract

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – More than 2,000 Erie County workers are still without a new contract having voted down their latest offer. But County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says he believes many of those union members would like to keep it that way.

Workers with CSEA will continue receiving free lifetime health care under their old contract, which expired seven years ago. The contract the union rejected Thursday night would have given workers a two percent yearly raise, but would have also required new employees to pay 15 percent toward health care. The plan would also double premiums and deductibles.

So as they did back in May, and two times before that, CSEA workers rejected Erie County’s contract offer.

Union member Edie Chavez said, “Nobody wants to give up a little insurance now and say, we’ll you gave up a little but maybe next couple of years you want to give up a little bit more, and your discretionary income just keeps lessening and lessening.”

Mychajliw says he understands that concern, but says some benefits are just not sustainable.

“Health care was a big concern moving forward,” he said. “We have to be very mindful of the taxpayers footing the bill. You’ll never find in the private sector workers getting health care for life, not paying towards their premiums.”

CSEA workers have been without a new contract for seven years. Some felt what the county was offering in back pay was not worth giving up many of their benefits.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “We did offer a $400 bonus per employee if they approved the contract. That of course is not going to be provided to the employees now because it was rejected.”

Had the new contract been approved, it would have cost the county $2.5 million. It was voted down 53 to 47 percent.

CSEA Communications Specialist Lynn Miller said, “Our next step is to come together and review the situation and try to determine exactly what happened and hopefully we can return to the negotiating table soon and start again.”

Poloncarz said Friday he was disappointed with the no vote. The union is willing to go back to the bargaining table, but Poloncarz says it is “doubtful” that any contract will be moving forward in the near future.

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