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JFS, union work on new pact

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:55 PM

Negotiations continue between the employee's union for Job and Family Services and Huron County, but both sides remain mum on details causing a delay in a contract.

Lowell Etzler, interim director for the agency, said talks began in early July to replace a three-year contract agreement that expired June 30.

Sources said the employees' union met Monday night to discuss a settlement, but union president Robin Hunt refused to confirm or deny a meeting was held.

Etzler discussed the negotiations with Huron County commissioners last week, but said nothing has been finalized. "We discussed some possibilities," he said. "The same discussion was held with the union. As a result, we're still in the process of negotiations so I can't go into any detail."

The commissioners did pass a resolution last week, however, to bring county policy regarding "bumping" when employees are laid off in Job and Family Services in line with state law. Etzler said a new state law passed under House Bill 187 does not allow management employees to "bump" or take a union job from another employee if the manager is laid off.

"That is a requirement of state law," Etzler said, adding that managers serve at the discretion of the agency director.

Another issue that faces the agency, he said, is salaries of managers compared to pay scales for employees. Some managers, who are paid a set salary, earn less than the employees they must oversee because employees can earn overtime pay.

"We're in the process of discussing that right now," Etzler said. "Over the period of several years, it just evolved into that." He said that issue is not a part of contract negotiations.

Etzler said he had no predictions as to how long negotiations might continue. Any changes in the contract might be retroactive to July 1 since the old contract has expired, he said, "but not necessarily."

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