BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County employees represented by the Teamsters Union settled Monday on a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase, their first since 2007.
The union had originally asked for 6 percent, or a percentage point for each year that salaries were frozen, but County Administrator Len Sossamon had built a 3 percent raise into his budget.
The Teamsters, who represent about 400 county workers, had also sought full reimbursement for the increasing cost of health insurance benefits.
Currently, the county pays a reimbursement of $340 every other week for single employees, $400 for two-person households, and $450 for larger families. These reimbursements would increase to $374, $440 and $495, respectively. That offer is slightly better than the one discussed during negotiations this summer.
If approved by union members and by the County Commission, the pay and reimbursement increases will be retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1.
The negotiating teams also agreed to form a joint committee to talk about creating a step plan that would set a standard progression of pay increases tied to each year of additional experience. That would be a more formal method of giving annual pay increases than simply having a pay range for each position.
The teams are hoping to implement that for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
"This tentative agreement has the full endorsement of the union negotiating committee and Teamsters Local 79,'' said John Sholtes, business agent for the Teamsters. "It is a great economic package for our members that not only provides for a long overdue wage increase, it also absorbs the 6% health insurance rate increase and provides another 4% toward health insurance costs."
He noted that the union recognizes that the lowest paid members of the county's work force struggle to pay for insurance, while some can't afford it.
"These provisions will help defray some of those costs and allow our members to provide better health insurance for themselves and their families," Sholtes said.
A contract explanation meeting and ratification vote is slated for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Transportation Services, Building B Crew Room, located at 1525 E Jefferson St. in Brooksville.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.