Carbon County officials have reached a collective bargaining agreement with a new union within its employees.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to ratify the collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) AFL-CIO, who represents 15 Carbon County court-related employees. The agreement is effective Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, explained this is the first union contract ever for this 15-person union.

The union was formed in early 2009 after several county employees from Juvenile and Adult Probation, as well as Domestic Relations, filed a petition under the Public Employee Relations Act with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

In the petition, which requested representation by a union, it stated that "all professional court-appointed employees including, but not limited to Adult and Juvenile Probation Officer I and II, Deputy Chief Officers, Domestic Relation Support Representative, Domestic Relation Specialist I and II, and Enforcement Officers" would be included and able to join a union. Excluded were "all nonprofessional employees, management level employees, supervisors, confidential employees and guards as defined by the act."

O'Gurek explained that the employees then voted in March 2009 to unionize.

The county has been in negotiations with AFSCME ever since.

O'Gurek highlighted a few of the major terms of the agreement, including a 6 percent raise for these employees in 2011; and 3 percent raises in 2012 and 2013. They will also get a ratification bonus of $750, effective Jan. 1, 2011, and a $250 bonus on Dec. 2, 2011. A longevity bonus of $250 will be paid to employees who have 12 years of service; $500 after 15 years of service; and $750 after 20 years of service.

In addition to ratification and longevity bonuses, employees who have a master's degree will receive a one-time $500 bonus.

O'Gurek added that there was also a market adjustment agreed upon for three employees in the Domestic Relations department.

During negotiations, the two parties agreed that those employees were not being compensated at a competitive salary. Those three employees' salaries will now be adjusted by nearly $1 an hour.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein also explained that the 6 percent raises represent the raises all other county employees received in 2010 and 2011 combined.

These employees did not receive a raise since the union was formed because the contract had been in negotiations. This action, Nothstein said, makes up for the 6 percent raise that they didn't receive over the last two years.

The new contract will affect the budget somewhat, in that it will cost the county more money to cover the raises and bonuses.

O'Gurek also thanked everyone involved in the negotiations, including the county's legal representation, attorney Roger Susanin; county administrator Randall Smith; court administrator Roberta Brewster; President Judge Roger Nanovic; and other county employees.

In a related matter, the county salary board voted to approve the union employees' salary changes for 2011 and abolish their salaries established at the beginning of the year.

The new salaries include:

Juvenile Court

Ÿ 1 Deputy chief juvenile probation officer: $23.16 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer II: $20.43 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer II: $21.04 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer I: $15.98 per hour.

Ÿ Backup on-call pay: $25 a day.

Domestic Relations

Ÿ 1 Domestic Relations officer II: $23.22 per hour.

Ÿ 2 Domestic Relations officers II: $16.31 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Domestic Relations officer I: $15.09 per hour.

Adult Probation

Ÿ 1 Deputy chief adult probation officer: $27.66 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer II/Gagnon hearing officer: $22.77 per hour.

Ÿ 2 Probation officers II: $20.43 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer II: $19.83 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer II: $18.70 per hour.

Ÿ 1 Probation officer II: $17.11 per hour.

Ÿ Backup on-call pay: $25 a day.