Carbon County has reached an agreement with one of its unions.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME AFL-CIO, District Council 87 and Local 2483, which covers about 35 people in various departments. The agreement, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, is in effect through Dec. 31, 2016.
Commissioner Chairman Wayne Nothstein thanked everyone on the negotiating teams for producing the agreement.
"The spirit of cooperation was clearly evident during the process and the agreement presented today was a result of that," he said.
Commissioner William O'Gurek noted that the terms of the agreement include no pay raises in 2013, a 3 percent salary increase in 2014, and a 2.5 percent increase in 2015 and 2016.
"They gave up their raise like the rest of the employees," Nothstein said. "It shows that they are willing to work with us in these hard financial times. Thank you."
O'Gurek added that in addition to the pay rates, the agreement covers employee copays for medical expenses and prescriptions.
Employees currently pay $15 in copays for medical benefits. They will pay $18.50 in 2014, $21 in 2015, and $24 in 2016.
Copays for prescriptions filled at the pharmacy will rise $6; while mail order, 90-day prescriptions will rise $7.
O'Gurek also explained that the county failed to reach a negotiation with the Teamsters union, which covers a number of corrections officers at the prison, and will be going to arbitration. The date for arbitration has been set for Dec. 3.
In other matters, Henry Desrosiers, director of the Carbon County Veterans Affairs office, announced events will be taking place in the county this weekend in honor of Veterans Day, which is Monday.
The largest event will be the Carbon County Veterans Day parade, which will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday in Lehighton. The five division parade will start at Coal and Fourth streets and travel to Third Street, where it will turn right onto Mahoning Drive. It will end at the Lehighton Recreation Center.
"I ask the general public and all the Carbon County residents to please follow these programs that are being conducted by the veterans organizations and I request that if you can attend, please do so," Desrosiers said. "It's (the parade) an enjoyable time and will be a good day. Support our veterans and the veteran organizations in the county.
"Respect a veteran because the reason why we have these parades and memorial services is because of our veterans."
Nothstein echoed Desrosiers' thoughts.
"These veterans gave many years of their lives and made sacrifices for us here at home throughout the many wars," he said. "Please give them an hour or two this weekend or at least at the parade."
The county also is still waiting to hear back from the Economic Development Administration on whether or not it will pull a $1 million grant earmarked for the proposed Packerton Yards Business Park in Mahoning Township and Lehighton.
O'Gurek said that he spoke with Dawn Ferrante, executive director of the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, who said she received a phone call from the EDA stating that they will hold off on making a decision on the grant until after the Commonwealth Court files its decision on the case Carbon commissioners are currently involved in with Mahoning Township supervisors.
The court heard the county's appeal in the case but has not yet filed its decision. The county appealed a court ruling earlier this year that sided with Mahoning Township supervisors and denied them from being able to construct a road on the Packerton property to begin industrializing the site.
"We're taking that to be good news in that we believe the EDA's position is if we win the court case, they will give us the money; if we lose then they will take the money," O'Gurek said.