Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hackel: better days ahead for employees

Macomb County employees may be past their worst days as far as paychecks are concerned, based on remarks made to me by County Executive Mark Hackel.
Hackel told me during an interview Monday that unionized workers, starting with their next contracts in 2014, will not have to concede any more wages, although he didn’t rule out them having to give up more in benefits. Negotiations are just starting.
The county has operated annual budget deficits in recent years, saved by a previously robust rainy day fund. But due to slashing of the employment rolls and structural changes in county government, things are looking up.
“Now we’re seeing better opportunities and the light at the end of the tunnel,” Hackel said. “This is good for all employees. We’re hoping we won’t have to take away from employees or that they will have to make concessions. … I don’t want to say we’re completely out of the woods but we are getting there. .. We do have better days ahead of us as far as contracts with employees.”
When pressed, Hackel backed away from assuring no cuts.
“I don’t’ guarantee” the lack of concessionary contracts, he said, mentioning employees may have to pay more for their “defined contribution.”
I’m not sure if he was referring to health care or retirement plans.
Hackel made the comments while discussing the county winning a court ruling regarding his imposition of concessionary labor contracts on two employee union groups, two of only three units among 26 total units that have been without contacts the past two years.
County officials already announced an end next year to the six furlough days employees take each year to save $3 million.
One employee, however, told me that many workers don't want the furlough days to end. They prefer them on the theory that if they’re going to be paid less, they might as well as have more time off surrounding weekends, often a holiday.


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