Mount Clemens — After several years of tough concessions, a new contract for most of Macomb County’s 2,500 employees puts an end to unpaid furlough days and includes several lump-sum payments.
The money is part of three-year contracts that begin this month and expire Dec. 31, 2016. The contracts do not include raises.
Mark Deldin, deputy executive, said non-elected, full-time county employees received a lump sum of $3,000 in their final checks at the end of 2013. They will also receive one-time payments of $500 in 2015 and 2016.
“We want to give credit to the employees,” Deldin said. “They were asked to go seven years without raises, paid more for health care and took unpaid days. We have turned the county around and we want to share some of that success with its employees.”
David Flynn, board of commissioners chairman, said a budget adjustment to cover the lump-sum payments totals more than $8 million, with more than $5 million coming from the county’s general fund.
Flynn said while he had some concerns, he voted in favor of the contracts. The full board of commissioners approved the changes Dec. 19.
In 2011, the county faced a $13.5 million deficit. Now, the county has added $30 million to its fund balance reserve, which is back to 2003 levels. That was partly accomplished by cutting 450 positions since 2006.
“The employees really took a beating. I am glad they have received a payment,” Flynn said. “I did have some concerns in regards to changes in retiree pension and healthcare but the unions reached an agreement and their members voted in favor of those changes.”
Brian Schrier of the Macomb County Professional Deputy Sheriff’s Association, which represents 160 corrections deputies, said the members did not receive $3,000 like other employees. The union is battling a unilaterally imposed contact by the county from last year and just started negotiating its 2014 contract.
“We have a court date set with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on Feb. 28,” he said.
“We feel discouraged. We read the reports, too, that the county is in the black and we want to share in the wealth,” Schrier said. “It makes it all the more difficult for them to justify severe wage deductions, removal of longevity pay and elimination of holiday pay.”
Eric Herppich, county human resources director, said a contract in place expired Dec. 31.
“We were in negotiations for over two years for that contract and were unable to reach agreement,” he said.
The county has 24 bargaining units, with all being settled on major issues except for four units, said Herppich.