County, Teamsters hammer out 3-year deal

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — By a vote of 4-1, the Indian River County Commission approved a new three-year agreement with Teamsters Local 769 that includes pay increases and an allowance for safety shoes.

The deal includes a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for fiscal year 2016/2017; an annual merit pay increase of 2.5 percent for eligible employees; and an annual lump sum of $800, $1,000 and $1,200 over the three-year period for those at the top of their pay range. The agreement also reflects a safety shoe allowance increase from $125 to $150 for qualifying employees; and adds Martin Luther King Day to the holiday schedule.

The two sides hammered out the deal during seven collective bargaining sessions, which Assistant County Administrator Michael Zito characterized as “civil. No attorneys were brought in.”

The increases do not exceed the amount budgeted for FY 2016/2017.

Commissioner Tim Zorc, who cast the dissenting vote, asked what the County and the Teamsters initial proposals were, before agreeing on the 3 percent increase. The Teamsters, Zito said, had sought 4.5 percent and the County had countered with 1.5 percent, and noted that employees are now paying more for health insurance.

County Administrator Jason Brown explained that the County matches the increase for the non-union employees, and noted that negotiations are still under way with the firefighters union.

“I’m not in favor of this,” said Zorc. “Senior citizens don’t understand why government employees get more” while they are on fixed incomes.

He also asked if the employees who had been laid off during the recession had been reinstated.

“We tried to bring back as any as we could,” Zito said.

Responding to a question from the public, Brown said the Commission cannot vote on its own compensation which, like the Sheriff’s, “is tied to the population.”

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