Luzerne County notebook: 9 county collective bargaining agreements up in 2018

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -

It’s a big year for Luzerne County government union negotiations.

Nine of the county’s 10 collective bargaining agreements have expired or will lapse on Dec. 31.

A negotiating session will be held next week on two of the expired contracts with the AFSCME residual and court-related unions, said county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik.

The county has submitted proposed contract offers to the three remaining unions with expired agreements, which are all covered by Teamsters Local 401 — Children and Youth, Mental Health and Developmental Services and Aging, Parsnik said.

Dates must be scheduled to commence negotiations on contracts expiring the end of this year with probation and domestic relations support officers represented by their own Court Appointed Professional Employees Association, assistant district attorneys/public defenders under Teamsters, court-appointed support workers belonging to AFSCME, and prison corrections officers and other staff in LIUNA Local 1310.

• The county courthouse is closed today for Presidents’ Day — one of 12 paid holidays provided to county government employees.

In its five-year financial recovery plan released in 2015, consultant Public Financial Management had suggested the county eliminate one paid holiday to save the county around $73,000 and increase productivity. The reduction, which has not been publicly advanced, would have to be negotiated with union workers.

• Approximately 1,700 boxes of water-damaged records and docket books will be salvaged by Michigan-based DFD Document Restoration Services because the county’s insurance carrier agreed to cover the nearly half a million dollar expense, county officials said.

The insurance carrier will attempt to recoup at least some of this expense from the insurance held by the owner of the Wilkes-Barre building where the records had been stored, officials said. Building owner Thomas C. Thomas had identified a faulty sprinkler head as the cause of the Aug. 24 leak and said his insurance covers damage to the structure but not the contents of those leasing space.

• A May 21 target date has been set to launch a new county website.

• The county ended up receiving more than $18,000 tapping unclaimed money through the state Treasury Department, according to a recent county report.

Kingston Township resident Bill Owens had urged county officials to pursue the revenue source at a fall 2016 council meeting, saying he was researching his unclaimed property and noticed dozens of entries for the county and other local government entities.

• Eight prison correctional officers were hired in January at $31,382 annually, according to the manager’s monthly personnel report at Melissa Benson, Elena Deangelo, Richard Doninetz, Matthew Kowalski, Timothy Kuniega, Michael Majeski, Gerald Yamlewski and Paul Yusko.

Despite the hirings, the prison is still short around 13 correctional officers due to retirements and other departures, said county Correctional Services Division Head Mark Rockovich. He noted some leave for state prison system jobs.

For example, five correctional officers left in January, according to the report. Daniel Evancho took a pay cut, from $36,030 to $27,400, to become a county deputy sheriff. Bruce Lykon and Betty Quinn retired, and Matthew Carey and Lance Wren were terminated, the report says.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.