Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando government employees overwhelmingly reject contract proposal

BROOKSVILLE — In a vote that surprised no one, Hernando County government's unionized workers Thursday night overwhelmingly defeated a contract that included cuts in benefits and furloughs.

The final tally showed 306 employees voting "no" and 45 "yes." In the smaller bargaining unit for professionals, seven voted "no" and just one "yes."

"We knew. It was to be expected,'' said Cheryl Marsden, the county's director of administrative services. Still, she said, she was surprised at the margin of defeat.

Marsden said she plans to meet with acting County Administrator Ron Pianta and Assistant County Attorney Jon Jouben early next week to map out the county's next steps.

Marsden said selling a contract during lean times was difficult. "In bad times, you don't have a lot to give,'' she said.

But when the county's constitutional officers said the day after the 2011-12 budget was approved that they were not going to force their employees to take the health care benefit cuts proposed for employees under the County Commission's jurisdiction, the task of gaining support for the contract grew tougher, she said.

Health care benefit cuts were among the top issues workers noted on their ballots as reasons for rejecting the pact, said Steve Mosely, business agent for Teamsters Local 79.

Currently, employees receive a county contribution toward health insurance of $670 a month for single employees, $760 a month for an employee plus a child or spouse, and $830 for an employee and family.

The contract proposed reducing coverage to two tiers, with a monthly contribution of $630 for single employees and $720 for an employee plus others.

Furloughs were another bone of contention.

A letter of agreement in the proposal would have required county employees to take 10 unpaid days off during the 2011-12 budget year. Those would have included two holidays that were previously paid holidays. Employees could have used up to six of their accrued paid-time-off days for the furlough days.

Wages in general were also a sticking point with employees, according to comments that many who voted wrote on their ballots, Mosely said. He is assembling a report on the reasons given that will be delivered to the county next week.

"They're all money-related,'' he said of the issues.

Mosely said he wasn't discouraged by the vote, and was happy to see such a large number of employees take the time to cast ballots.

Of the 518 employees under the commission's control, 422 are represented by the Teamsters. None of the employees in the county's constitutional offices are represented by the union.

The lack of equity between board-controlled employees and the constitutional offices' employees is not lost on workers, Mosely said.

"They have certainly borne the burden of the budget cuts,'' he said. "It looks like they've had enough.''

Mosely said he expects to be back at the bargaining table with the county by mid December. He said it should be a simple conversation about whether the county can find money to sweeten the pot.

"I think that the workers have sent a loud, clear message,'' Mosely said. "If you have 351 people vote and 306 vote "no," if that doesn't send a message, nothing will.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando government employees overwhelmingly reject contract proposal 11/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2011 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. President Trump: Nation's culture being 'ripped apart' by Civil War statue removals


    WASHINGTON — Showing his characteristic refusal to back down in the face of criticism, President Donald Trump deepened his defense of Confederate war memorials Thursday, sending out a series of messages on Twitter that adopted the language and arguments of white nationalists who have opposed their removal.

    President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists.  [Associated Press]
  2. With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay


    Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

    Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012
  3. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat


    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war


    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Supporters of a Civil War display at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum had a brochure made to attract donations. They argue in a lawsuit that their efforts were thwarted when the park's executive committee changed their plans.
  5. Myrtle Avenue closed, man hospitalized after Clearwater bike crash


    CLEARWATER — Myrtle Avenue is closed in both directions following a bicycle crash that hospitalized a man with serious injuries.