Major municipal union agrees to new contract, health plan

Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – A large portion of the city’s employees recently settled on a new contract.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ratified the contract with the city Dec. 13; the City Council accepted it Dec. 20.

The primary difference in the new contract is that AFSCME employees join several other employee union groups under the same health plan, which not only simplifies things for the city, but also results in an unspecified amount of savings.

“The big change from the city standpoint is we’re trying to get all the employees on the same health plan,” Mayor Daniel Paletko said. “There’s huge cost savings.”

He declined to mention specifics, however.

Beyond health care, there are no salary increases, but the contract includes varying amounts of additional vacation and personal time.

“This was a huge breakthrough,” Paletko said. “There is no significant increases anywhere from our standpoint. Cash is just critical right now.”

Retirees, police officers, nonunion employees and AFCSME now are on the same health plan. The police officer union’s contract was approved a few months ago, Paletko said.

“We got two of the biggest unions out of the way,” City Council President Kenneth Baron said. “We just have to get the rest on board.”

Paletko said four major groups still are in discussions with city officials and are hoping to align with a new health plan.

“We are still talking with the firefighters, the command officers in the Police Department, (building inspectors) and court employees,” he said.

Paletko is confident negotiations will result in all city employees on the same health plan, but did not have a timetable for completion of the other contract settlements.

(Contact Chris Jackett at