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Westmoreland

North Huntingdon approves labor agreement with public employees

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, 10:33 a.m.

North Huntingdon will have labor peace with 35 unionized municipal employees after reaching a new, five-year contract agreement.

Township commissioners this week unanimously approved a deal that grants employees an average annual increase of 80 cents an hour, equal to about a 2.7-percent pay hike, for employees in the public works and parks and recreation departments as well as police dispatchers and administrative personnel who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 83.

The agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1 and runs through 2021. The previous contract expired Dec. 31.

Union members unanimously approved the contract Wednesday, said LaVonne Shields, former local union president and chief negotiator for the workers.

Under the deal, union members will continue to pay the same portion of their health insurance premiums, said John Shepherd, township manager.

The contract approved by both sides eliminated language that would have required township officials to meet with union leaders in the event of a declared emergency, such as a snowstorm or flood.

Several commissioners said the township could not force union leaders to meet with them and that it was essential to move as quickly as possible in an emergency.

In other matters, commissioners discussed eliminating a fire-hydrant tax on residents whose levy would be less than $1.

The township charges the tax to recoup the $50 fee charged by the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, and the fire-hydrant tax fund has a surplus, Shepherd said. For residents whose tax is less than $1, it costs the township more to send notices than it receives, Shepherd said.

The fire-hydrant tax proposal could be considered in February, he said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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