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County approves raises for Teamsters union

Support staff in the Sheriff’s Office will see raises that give them an extra $4,000 a year on the low end or about $7,000 on the high end of their experience under a new contract approved by the county commissioners on Monday.

The contract gives raises over the next few years of 1 percent to 7.3 percent, depending on position.

The county commissioners approved one contract for the Teamsters Union support staff in the Sheriff’s Office, consisting of eight support specialists and two administrative secretaries. The four-year contract gives 1 percent raises to administrative secretaries for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The contract gives support specialists a 5 percent increase next year, then 4 percent bumps in 2015 and 2016 and a 7.3 percent bump in 2017. The position also eliminates the administrative secretary job category and makes all of the support staff the same, higher-paying support specialists in 2017.

Today, an administrative secretary makes $40,296 per year on the low end of experience and $45,636 on the high end and a support specialist makes $36,132 on the low end and $40,512 on the high end. By the time the contract is over in 2017, all 10 employees will make $41,940 on the low end and $47,484 on the high end.

The commissioners approved the contract on a 2-1 vote with Commissioners Herb Welch and Frank Gordon approving the raises.

Commissioner Wes Cormier voted against the increase, saying that he thinks the county has still not come out of its fiscal hole, that more cuts may be needed in the future and that giving pay raises at a time when cuts could be on the horizon makes little sense.

“Can we really afford to give everyone a raise right now?” Cormier said.

Although the contract just counts for 10 people, it could be a look at what could be coming down the pipe for other county employees. All of the county’s contracts are up for renewal. Most county employees received a 2 percent raise this year after coping with cutbacks for years.

Cormier had hoped to open up union negotiations to the public, but the union representing the Public Works employees and the courthouse employees threatened to file an unfair labor practices complaint against the county if Cormier went through with his request.