December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria may see hope in union’s longevity pay grip

ELYRIA — The city may finally get some movement on the longevity component of its compensation plan with a recent fact-finders report calling for a two-tiered system within the Elyria Police Patrolmen’s Association.

The scaled back approach would be for new hires only, but it is being seen by city officials as a step in the right direction. This is the first time the city has been able to loosen the tightly held reigns of longevity pay from any of its collective bargaining units.

At 1 percent for every year compounded up to 20 years and 20 percent, Elyria’s incentive program that rewards longtime employment has been lauded as very lucrative when put up against comparable cities.

But the new proposed plan calls for no longevity pay for the first five years of employment and a 5 percent merit increase on year six. The same merit increase would follow in year 11, 16 and 21.

“The key here is the longevity would not compound year after year,” said Finance Director Ted Pileski.

The costs savings to the city would be at least $22,000 per employee over the course of their employment.

City Council voted Monday night to accept the report, and now it’s up to EPPA members to do the same before the document can be ratified into a new contract. The report was issued Thursday, and both sides have seven days to accept or reject the findings.

The contract would run from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2015, with the option to come back to the table in 2015 to discuss wages only.

The report also calls for EPPA members to receive a 2 percent wage increase over 18 months. The new compensation schedule would be as followed: Class A patrolman $52,871.28, Class B patrolman $48,872.13 and Class C patrolman $43,730.37. The report recommends members continue to pay health care premiums at 15 percent, but if the city’s health insurance committee cannot keep expenses in line, the premium cost would raise to 16.5 percent.

For the city, accepting the report, which in addition to longevity addresses wages and health care, falls in line with previously discussed plans to bring employee costs under control.

“This is definitely a step in that direction,” said Mayor Holly Brinda. “When you have been offering a longevity plan like we have for as long as we have, getting movement is not easy.”

Attorney Ken Stumphauzer, who negotiated on behalf of the city, called the longevity component huge.

“I’m not aware of any other city with a two-tier longevity plan, but I’m also not aware of a city with a longevity plan like Elyria’s,” he said.

Elyria began offering longevity pay across the board on Dec. 27, 1970, after then-City Council passed an ordinance giving the benefit to all full-time employees, excluding elected officials, police officers and firefighters. Before that ordinance, it was something given only to police and firefighters, who negotiated it into their contracts in the 1960s.

When Brinda came into office, nixing longevity pay for those in her office was top on her list. She and her administrative staff do not receive the perk.

Elyria’s current longevity system is not seen in other cities.

In Lorain, longevity is a set dollar amount and not a set percentage of pay.

In Akron, the city does not start paying longevity until full-time employees reach their fifth anniversary.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.