LISBON - Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services workers received a wage increase and the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday in a new three-year union contract approved Wednesday.
Retroactive to March 1, the deal ratified by county commissioners gives union members in the public assistance and child support enforcement agency divisions raises of 45 cents this year, and 40 cents in both 2009 and 2010. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union represents 96 employees in the two divisions.
According to a DJFS salary chart, the starting rate at step one on the pay scale will increase from $10.38 per hour to $10.83 per hour. The highest pay rate on the scale will increase from $14.63 per hour to $15.08 per hour.
DJFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon explained the new paid holiday will take the place of Columbus Day, which workers in the AFSCME union will now work instead of being off. Workers in the Children Services division, who are covered by the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union, along with non-union workers in all divisions, will continue to have Columbus Day as a paid holiday and the day after Thanksgiving as a work day.
Dray-Bardon said the switch in holidays for public assistance and child support enforcement workers will actually prove more productive in the work accomplished because the state computer system, which the department uses, is usually shut down for updating on the day after Thanksgiving.
"We felt that it was a good contract," she said.
Health insurance benefits will remain the same as before, with all DJFS workers required to pay a 2 percent co-pay on the monthly premium.
The new contract will expire in 2010. Children Services union members approved their new pact earlier this year, also with wage increases.
In other DJFS business, the commissioners approved two more contracts to be paid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families federal money allocation, with Dray-Bardon saying the action wraps up the required contract approvals for service providers for this fiscal year, which began Tuesday.
Approved contracts included: Kent State University Salem and East Liverpool campuses for the "Getting Ahead: Open Enrollment Program," with a contract ceiling of $75,000; and Creating Success Stories program through Tammy Blankenship, with a contract ceiling of $27,170.
The commissioners also received a final report on the success of the $300 gas card program. The three-month program using federal funds resulted in 4,971 cards being issued to 1,657 individuals valued at $497,100.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at email@example.com