AUGUST 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News
Former striking AFSCME Local 524 members like arbitration
BY PAUL TUCKER
REGION- August 1st- Frustrated by receiving lower annual pay increases than other workers employed by the County, employees of the Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services would like changes made to allow their unit of workers to seek arbitration when the two parties are not able to reach an agreement at the bargaining table.
On Friday May 15th members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 524, who work at several locations in Lackawanna County, went of strike because of the failure of gaining a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the county government.
The two parties reached a agreement of a new three-year CBA on May 27th and the workers returned to their jobs on May 28th. AFSCME represents approximately 90 workers employed by Lackawanna County’s Children and Youth agency. There are seven bargaining units of unionized workers in Lackawanna County.
The workers had been working under the terms and conditions of the previous CBA since it expired in December 2014. The new pact will expire in December 2016. The new CBA included a wage increase of 2 percent the first and final year of the agreement but the workers received a 3 percent increase in year two, this year.
Local 524 is affiliated with AFSCME District Council 87, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Members of the bargaining unit told this reporter that they believed it was unfair that both the Lackawanna County Deputy Sheriffs Association, which represent the County’s Sheriffs, and AFSCME Local 2736, which represents the Correction Officers (CO’s) at the Lackawanna County Prison, received more in annual raises than them, even after going on strike.
Mary Rose Moran, President of Local 524, stated that her bargaining unit is not covered under Pennsylvania law that forbids certain workers that protects public safety, from striking when their union fails to reach a successor contract agreement. Often an arbitrator award is better for the membership than what is being offered by management. Ms. Moran would like the law changed to include her members, which she believes provides services for public safety.
The Lackawanna County Sheriffs Assocation members received 3.4 percent annual raises while the CO’s received nearly the same through arbitration.