June 7, 2011
Three Baltimore County unions have agreed to give up cost-of-living increases in exchange for job security through 2014, yet another sign that local officials are bracing for continued tough economic times.
The county is approaching the end of a two-year agreement that required municipal and public safety employees to pay a larger share of health care costs. Unions representing 1,925 sheriff’s department workers, firefighters and some municipal employees — roughly a quarter of the county’s workforce — would be affected by the contract extension, which was announced Tuesday by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
The two largest unions — the police union and the county Federation of Public Employees, which represents most government workers — have not agreed on contract extensions.
Negotiations are underway with the county Federation of Public Employees and county Federation of Public Health Nurses. The county has not started negotiating with the police union, its largest bargaining unit.
Employees in the three unions will receive scheduled increment and longevity increases, and they will not be laid off or furloughed. However, employees in the sheriff’s department and firefighters hired after July 1 will contribute more to their pension plans.
“I applaud the leaders of these labor organizations for recognizing that there is no more important issue facing government today than the creation of a benefit structure that is affordable and sustainable,” Kamenetz said in a news release. “These agreements will help Baltimore County navigate the very difficult years ahead.”
Michael Day, president of the Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association, credited Kamenetz with helping to facilitate the agreement in the release.
“He and his team have hit the ground running,” said Day, whose union also represents paramedics.
The county executive said previously that locking up contract extensions early would be a priority. The current agreement expires June 30, 2012.