New Luzerne County residual union contract up for adoption Tuesday

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
Luzerne County Courthouse -

Luzerne County Council is set to vote Tuesday on a new contract with the 164-member AFSCME residual union.

Described as the “rank-and-file” contract, the residual agreement covers 911 telecommunicators, security guards and some employees in road and bridge, building and grounds, mapping, voter services and several other offices.

A union majority had rejected a proposed contract earlier this year, but it passed during another recent vote, said county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik.

Residual workers can’t seek binding arbitration if negotiations reach an impasse because they have the right to strike.

The county has not been releasing details of union contracts until they are approved by council, based on a solicitor’s office determination the county is still technically in negotiation before council’s adoption. Councilman Stephen A. Urban and some citizens have disagreed with this practice.

• Council’s voting meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre, followed by a work session.

Three Tuesday sessions will precede the voting meeting: a council Act 13 Grant Committee meeting at 4 p.m., a council Strategic Initiatives Committee meeting at 5 p.m. and a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to allow completion of a countywide blighted property database at 5:45 p.m.

• County Manager C. David Pedri will introduce and release his proposed long-range operational, fiscal and capital plan at Tuesday’s council meeting. Council has until September to adopt the plan, with or without changes. If not, Pedri’s proposal automatically takes effect.

• John Alunni has been hired as the new human services program director at $68,500, according to the manager’s latest monthly personnel report posted at

A council majority agreed to add the position in the 2018 budget at the request of Pedri and Human Services Division Head Lynn Hill. The program director will review data and services to streamline existing programs and develop new ones, allowing Hill to focus more on finances, increased community outreach and education, they had said.

The state will fund 95 percent of the position, officials said.

• Six Children and Youth caseworkers were hired in April, and two were terminated, the personnel said. The department currently has 14 vacancies, down from more than 40 in 2016.

Five of the new hires are for entry-level caseworker positions paying $29,958 annually — Monica Strouse, Michael Vergaretti, Taisha Martinez, Gary McGee and Deidre Otto. Rachel Homitz was hired as a “caseworker 2” at $36,000.

The two terminated caseworkers were Rebecca Kemmerer and Sarah Swingle, the report said.

Human services fiscal officer Sonia Love and Children and Youth fiscal officer Matthew Sullivan also were terminated in April, the report said. The administration does not discuss the reasons for terminations, citing personnel confidentiality.

• Among the other employees hired in April: Kendra Strobel, assistant public defender, $43,000; Nicholas Weron, public defender investigator, $26,928; Lindsay Dunsmuir and Michael Marchetti, district justice clerk typists, $24,202; Kymber Letteer, public defender clerk/stenographer, $25,908; Shevaun Olshefski and Melissa Giebus, probation fiscal technicians, $26,346; Robert Woznock, prison nurse, $52,689; and Gaye Nowak, Visitor’s Bureau office coordinator, $30,000.

• Six employees retired or resigned during the month: security guard Patricia Benzi, human services program specialist Joseph Kloss, aging care manager Casey Willey and correctional officers Nicholas Mazur, Timothy Kuniega and Gene Culp.

Luzerne County Courthouse County Courthouse

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.