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Latest News - May 2014

May 7, 2014
Union: Bristol Twp. refuses to negotiate new deal
Source: Buck County courier times
By: Anthony Diamttia

Seven Bristol Township employees would still be working full time if township officials were willing to negotiate a new contract, a union official said Tuesday.

Michael Walsh, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 282, said the township’s move last week to switch the employees from full time to part time could have been avoided if officials were willing to “sit down” with the union.

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A mediator has been involved in contract talks between the union since March, but Bristol Township has refused to participate, Walsh said. The union’s last contract expired in 2010, he said.

Township solicitor Randy Flager on Tuesday dismissed Walsh’s claims and said union officials refused to budge during recent discussions.

“We’ve tried to negotiate,” he said. “(But) in order to have an agreement both sides need to compromise.”

Flager said the township needs to make “major structural changes to benefits” to save money.

Switching some TWU employees from 40 hours to 28 hours will help save the township about $21,000 a year per employee in wages and health insurance costs, officials said. That’s $147,000 a year.

Officials said health insurance costs are adding to the township’s $81 million in unfunded liabilities, which includes $71 million in retiree health insurance costs, $7 million for the police pension trust fund and nearly $3.2 million in unused employee time that could be redeemed.

TWU employees, who work in the public works department and in the municipal building, pay nothing toward their health insurance premiums, $1 for prescriptions and $5 for doctor visit copays, officials said.

Last year, a state arbitrator ruled that the union could keep the current benefits after the township wanted TWU employees to contribute $5 for prescriptions and $15 for doctor visit copays, according to Walsh, who said that would have saved the municipality about $250,000. The ruling cost the township about $60,000-$80,000 in insurance reimbursements to employees, he said.

“We would have stayed with the ($15 plan) but (township manager Bill McCauley) wouldn’t sit down with us,” the union president added.

A deal between the union and Bristol Township to raise worker contributions to health insurance was agreed upon but never implemented, Councilman Craig Bowen said



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