CSEA, Essex County approve new contract

— The Essex County Board of Supervisors approved a new three-year contract with members of the County Chapter of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA).

The board voted to approve the contract, which would retroactively take effect as of Jan. 1 of this year and give no pay increases to members of the union in 2013, with a 1 percent increase in 2014 and a 2 percent increase in 2015.

County Manager Dan Palmer said that the contract represented a compromise between the two sides.

“This contract represents a cooling off contract between both sides because it was rather contentious at times,” Palmer said. “This really is kind of a compromise. It leaves the union with certain items that they felt were important to be preserved.”

Palmer said that a major compromise came between the annual wage increases and overtime in the Sheriff’s Department, where the 12-hour schedule led to four hours of overtime per pay period. The union agreed to language that would remove the overtime charges from the payroll while the county increased their pay increase offer from zero percent in the second year to 1 percent.

“That provides a savings of about $175,000 per year with the overtime,” Palmer said. “In return, we did change our original proposal from 0-0-2 to 0-1-2 for pay increases. We did that to compromise on the four hours of overtime at the Sheriff’s Department. That is a permanent reduction, and I felt that this was a fair exchange and the committee agreed.”

Members of the contract committee commented on the compromises that were reached.

“I did not see everything that I wanted, and I am sure that I can say that the union did not see everything that they wanted,” Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said. “I think that this contract is a good representation for the county.”

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