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Suffolk AME officials take flak for payments from county

Top officials of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees are taking fire over a clause in the not yet ratified contract under which the county will contribute a total of $150,000 to top union officials for potential loss of overtime and promotion for doing their union jobs.

The extra pay would total $18,795 for each of the eight members of the executive board of the AME.

The labor agreement also would give AME members raises totaling 12 percent through 2024, although the contract includes givebacks. A separate pact requires members to pay a 2 percent share of health insurance costs.

AME President Dan Levler said the union board of directors instructed negotiators to seek the county compensation for top union officials, which is similar to pay top police union officials receive.

The AME already pays its top officials $1,200 a month or $14,400 annually for the extra time they spend on union business. Eight top AME officials are on full-time release from their county jobs.

Levler said some of his union members have been “freaked out” by the Bellone administration’s explanation of the contract. But he said the union is presenting the “good and the bad,” and when the entire deal is explained “people react favorably.”

“Some people with an ax to grind are trying to imply that we are not doing best job we can for the people," said Levler. "It’s insulting.”

Levler said without a deal, the union would have to go to fact finding and mediation, which could take a year or two. If there is no agreement, the county eventually could set terms for a one-year period.

“We’d receive nothing,” but still have to help pay health costs, Levler said.

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