County AFSCME Union Ratifies Deal

The largest union for Washtenaw County employees, AFSCME Local 2733, has ratified a new contract, according to county administrator Verna McDaniel. AFSCME Local 2733 represents five of the county’s 17 bargaining units. Members ratified their new contract with the county by a 2-to-1 vote.

Local 2733 represents 644 workers. The contract will be presented to the county board of commissioners for approval at a special meeting called for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. in the county administration building, 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor.

In an email to The Chronicle Monday afternoon, McDaniel praised the employees, noting that they had also made concessions during the previous budget cycle. She said the board will be asked to exempt the county employees who reached this agreement from state legislation calling for 80/20 health care cost sharing or a cap on premiums. That legislation would require public employees to pay 20% of their health care costs, effective Jan. 1, 2012, or to cap the amount that local governments would pay as premiums for employees. To be exempt, contracts must be ratified and signed by Sept. 15.

McDaniel said the agreement includes wage concessions and shared health care costs, but no other details would be released until Tuesday’s special meeting. She indicated that other bargaining units might also ratify tentative agreements before that meeting.

The county faces an estimated $17.5 million two-year budget deficit in 2012 and 2013, and has been negotiating with 15 of its 17 labor bargaining units to achieve $8 million in concessions over that period. Two bargaining units – the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) and the Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM) – earlier this year reached agreements that aren’t part of the $8 million goal. The POAM and COAM deals are for a four-year period through 2014.

At their Sept. 7, 2011 meeting, the board of commissioners approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Michigan Nurses Association-Unit II, representing two county employees. That deal is expected to save $24,300. This summer, commissioners had approved an agreement with the Michigan Nurses Association-Unit I, representing 13 public health nurses and nurse coordinators in the county’s health services department. That agreement is expected to achieve an annual savings of $132,000.

Washtenaw County employs about 1,300 workers, including about 1,000 who are represented by collective bargaining units. For background, see Chronicle coverage: “County Board Briefed on Labor Issues.”