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Suffolk panel backs raises for SCCC aides and workers

A Suffolk legislative committee unanimously backed a new four-year contract Tuesday that will give $2.47 million in raises to 754 Suffolk County Community College aides and white- and blue-collar workers, sending the deal to the full legislature for ratification Tuesday.

The settlement covers the years 2013 to 2016. That means the county’s largest union, the Association for Municipal Employees, will have to begin negotiating a new contract Friday.

“We’re happy to bring college employees up to date with other AME county employees,” said Daniel Levler, AME union president. He expressed hope that contract talks will not take as long in the new talks, with reasonable proposals rather than “blue skying on either side. We want our employees to know they have contract in place.”

Talks on the college contract were delayed, in part, because a Communications Workers of America local challenged AME for the right to represent the college workers, and negotiations ceased until a vote on the issue could be held.

The deal, which mirrors the contract for other county AME workers, gives no pay raises for 2013 and 2014, a 1 percent hike as of July 1, 2015, another 1 percent on Dec. 1, 2015, and a 3 percent hike as of July, 1, 2016.

Those increases are offset by cuts to starting wages for new employees and by an increase in the amount of time it takes to reach the top step on the wage scale by 4.5 years.

The pact also permits the county to defer $642,000 in payments to the union benefit fund for one year, but pay the sum back over 12 years.

College workers ratified the pact on a 353-51 vote on Nov. 10, and the college board of trustees approved it Dec. 8.

Legislative presiding officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said he “doesn’t anticipate any issue with it passing. I think everyone will be happy it won’t be hanging over anyone’s head and we can all move forward.”

Jeff Tempera, the college’s human resources vice president, said cumulative raises from the contract should be included in workers’ paychecks by Feb. 25; the retroactive payment for those raises should be made by early May.

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