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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Atlantic County Bargains for Cost-Effective Union Contracts

Atlantic County government’s efforts to negotiate its union contracts during the current economic downturn have achieved cost-effective results with salary increases limited to two percent or less.

Most recently the county filed for interest arbitration with Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) 34 Corrections Officers after more than two years of unresolved negotiations. In his decision, the arbitrator cited the fact that the county had established a pattern of negotiating, based on 15 previous negotiations since 2011, that should not be changed. The arbitrator also rejected a number of union proposals regarding overtime payment and other issues that would have created additional financial difficulties for the county following a severe loss of ratables.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of our recent contract negotiations,” stated County Counsel James Ferguson. “While the county certainly appreciates the dedicated service of our employees, we must also protect the interests of our taxpayers. It is a delicate balance that has become all the more challenging in the face of rising unemployment and a reduced tax base.”

The arbitrator awarded an expanded 10-step salary advancement guide for existing FOP 34 employees, created a new 14-step salary guide for new hires and reduced their longevity payments. This award is very similar to an agreement reached with PBA 243 Sheriff Officers.

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