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Erie County Lawmakers to Debate Union Pay Hike

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A battle is brewing in the legislature over proposed raises for one of Erie County's largest unions. The legislature's Government Affairs Committee meets Monday to discuss the long-stalled contract for AFSME Local 1095.

The contract has been in a holding pattern since the 2005 budget crisis. So, a year-and-a half ago the county and the union entered arbitration. That produced recommendations for raises totaling seven percent over five years. But the fact-finder's report was put on hold as the Giambra administration held out for union concessions on a host of spiraling benefit costs.

Now, Legislator Tom Loughran is trying to move negotiations forward by proposing a one percent raise retroactive to 2005.

The Erie County Medical Center would have to cover the cost of raises for the AFSME workers it employs. But Loughran said the raises would cost the county roughly $1.7 million. He concedes that is a significant impact for the county. But Loughran said that in light of pay hikes granted to new Collins administrators there is also a fairness issue.

Last month, the full legislature approved the variable minimums - totaling roughly forty thousand dollars - to boost starting salaries for three positions in the Collins Administration. Loughran was one of the lawmakers opposing the measure.

Loughran said he has some support for the resolution he will present to the committee Monday. But he said it is unclear if he has the votes needed to approve raises for the AFSME Local 1095 workers.

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