2 city unions ratify pacts providing pay raises

But health care costs for members are higher

October 23, 2003|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

The city's two largest unions set aside their collective differences with Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration and approved new contracts this week that provide pay raises to offset increases in health care costs.

The City Union of Baltimore, whose members ratified the two-year deal Tuesday, signed the agreement yesterday. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 44 approved an identical agreement Sunday and signed it Tuesday.

The Board of Estimates is scheduled to formally approve the agreements Wednesday, ending a contentious negotiating season for the city with its five unions.

The 6,500 workers represented by the City Union of Baltimore and AFSCME would be the only city employees to receive raises in this fiscal year, which began July 1. Police, firefighters and fire officers agreed this year to contracts that provide no raises and require the members to cover more of their health care premiums.

The AFSCME and CUB officials had argued that their members, who have been working without a contract since July, could not afford more expensive medical benefits because they are the city's lowest-paid workers.

Under the new agreements, the workers will pay 15 percent of their health care premiums - the same percentage paid by fire and police unions. However, they will receive a 2 percent raise beginning Jan. 1, the middle of the current fiscal year, and a 2 percent raise for the next fiscal year.

The negotiations coincided with the city's primary elections this year, and the contentiousness cost the mayor the blanket endorsement of the AFL-CIO for the primary Sept. 9.

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