Cumberland Times-News

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January 12, 2013

Expansion, jobs boost county’s economy

2 union contracts remain unsigned

CUMBERLAND — Two groups of county employees continue to work without contracts as negotiations between the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Allegany County continue.

The previous contracts expired last summer.

Negotiations with transit employees, including bus drivers, and animal control employees are continuing, said Brian Westfall, director of human resources for the county.

“We continue in discussions with transit. There are 24 employees in the bargaining unit. Animal control remains open as well. There are two employees in that unit,” Westfall said.

Commission President Michael McKay has said that he is optimistic that agreements will be reached.

Some county bus drivers, members of the transit bargaining unit, were upset by changes in routes and reduced overtime that took place in September.

The poor economy is also playing a role in the process.

Union officials told the Times-News that it has been a tough year to negotiate.

The county negotiating team consists of a number of members of the county’s senior management team. Commissioners decided not to employ an outside negotiator.

Both sides have been limiting public discussion of the contracts because the two set ground rules prohibiting comment about the negotiations to the media.

Last year, the county implemented a plan that cut 10 county positions and saves $475,000.

The 10 positions, added to 32 positions eliminated last year through attrition and an early retirement option, would mean 42 positions cut in two years. That’s about 18 percent of the work force in two years, county officials said.

While county commissioners are regularly briefed, they don’t take part in the direct negotiations, McKay said earlier.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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