Health board rejects contract report
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Written by By JAN LARSON Sentinel County Editor
Friday, 15 January 2010 10:21
Employees at the Wood County Health Department are continuing to work today, still without a contract. The board of health voted unanimously Thursday evening to reject the fact finder's report - thus leaving the union workers in limbo for at least another month.
"We are at a loss for words as to why the board would turn down the fact finder's report," union delegates said in a statement after the vote. "It seemed to us that most of the issues went in their favor, including the pay increase."
Following the vote, union member Paul Hagen stood up and asked the board to explain its reasons for rejecting the fact finder's compromise. Board President Dr. Steve Dood explained that the board's labor negotiator would contact union officials Friday to discuss the particular issues.
After the meeting, Dood said he believed the issues separating the two sides were minor.
"The majority of it was agreeable to us," he said of the fact finder's report.
However, the board wanted clarification of some language in the report, but only had the option of approving or rejecting it during the meeting. Dood said he is hopeful a contract will be approved at February's board meeting.
"I think the issues we have can be resolved before the next meeting," he said.
The 48 members of Service Employees International Union 1199 at the county health department have been working without a contract since last June, according to Pat Snyder, union delegate.
When the union and management couldn't agree on some items in the negotiations, those issues went to a fact finder for resolution.
The union members voted to approve the fact finder's report with a 2-1 margin, Snyder said. The contract gives workers pay raises ranging from less than 1 percent to just over 2 percent, she said. Employees initially protested management's decision to require employees to use their own time to attend mandatory training, and management's refusal to pay overtime for work on Saturdays and Sundays.
However, the employees agreed to those concessions in the fact finder's report, Snyder said.
Prior to the board's vote rejecting the report, Snyder said she was unsure what would happen if the board voted down the contract.
"If either side turns this down, we're at ground zero," she said. "We're here for the community, and we want to stay on the job. We really don't want to strike."