Commissioners OK raises for both union employees

LISBON – Columbiana County’s unionized employees – all two of them – will receive 2 percent annual pay raises under a new three-year contract approved this week.

The contract is with the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union, which represents courthouse maintenance man Jeff Elliott and Karen Reed, who works in the water department.

In addition to the annual pay raises, the employees will receive a $250 “bonus” in lieu of the first-year pay raise being retroactive to last April, when the pact originally expired.

In exchange, the union agreed to clean up the contract by eliminating numerous bargaining positions that were still on the books from 25 years ago but no longer exist. Commissioners have been restructuring their office over the past two years, turning the full-time assistant clerk position into two part-time jobs, thereby eliminating another position covered by the union.

Elliott and Reed will continue to pay the same percentage of their monthly health insurance premiums as other county employees, which is subject to change by commissioners when they renew the coverage for this year.

Commissioner Chairman Mike Halleck said he handled the negotiations personally rather than using their labor attorney, adding the move likely saved the county at least $5,000 in attorney fees.

In other action, Deputy County Engineer Bob Durbin met with commissioners and presented them with a list of the federal and state grants the engineer’s office received last year to fund various road and bridge and water and sewer projects.

The total was just a little over $5 million, and Durbin said half of that was an influx of $2.5 million in federal highway funding that enabled them to blacktop nearly 40 miles county roads, four times as much as normal.