April 3, 2023 – The Executive Board approved the 2023-24 budget, voted to send the Albany County Probation tentative agreement to the agency’s membership for ratification, and discussed legislative and contract updates at its March 23 and 24 meeting in Syracuse.
Secretary-Treasurer Joe Donahue presented a $41.4 million proposed budget, with a total net projected annual revenue increase of $2 million, offset by increased expenditures due to inflationary pressures on many expense items such as lodging and food, as well as increases related to staff salaries and benefits.
“I wanted to present to you a balanced budget based on anticipated revenues and anticipated expenditures that was fair to all and fair for all,” Donahue said. “Our total dues income increased by over a million dollars, and I want to thank Divisions, Organizing and Field Services for their hard work. We increased our membership by about 1,500 from the last fiscal year and that is great, but at the same time, things are getting more expensive.”
The three largest expenses break down to 47.6% for union leave, salaries, taxes, and benefits; 23.7% toward per capita and affiliation fees; and 10.6% for operating expenses.
Donahue also submitted for approval an amendment to the 2022-23 budget that balanced out increases in staff travel, office supplies, utility, janitorial and security expenses, computer fees, insurance, arbitration fees, and temporary hires, by using funds originally allocated to Employee Organizational Leave.
Both the 2023-24 budget and the 2022-23 amendment were approved by the board.
Contract programs set to sunset
The state finally passed some full-language proposals across the bargaining table at negotiations March 21 and 22, allowing the two sides to begin bargaining in earnest now that the 2019-2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement has expired.
“With both sides having proposals on the table, we are hopeful that we can now move forward with the more extensive, hard bargaining necessary to reach an agreement,” said Contract Team Chair Darlene Williams.
Williams reported the state denied extensions of several provisions of the contract that sunset when it expired, and no decisions have been made on others.
“Most contractual items do not sunset,” said Williams. “Health insurance benefits; performance advances, which are coming out in April; performance awards or longevities, for which we eliminated sunset language in the last contract. Also, grievance and arbitration rights pursuant to articles 33 (discipline), 34 (contract grievances) and 17 (out-of-title grievances).”
The following programs sunset March 31 and extensions have been denied:
- A pilot program allowing unused convention days to be used for other employee organizational leave.
- The enhanced worker’s compensation benefit for parole officers (injuries incurred April 1 and after are not covered).
- A $500 lump sum for seasonal employees at Parks and DEC.
- The $500 special assignment duty pay (members will get April 2023 payments, which are based on 2022).
- The Article 14 Quality of Work Life Program.
As of July 1, 2023, the Over-40 Comp Time Program will sunset, after which employees will not have the option of being compensated for overtime with comp time credits instead of overtime pay.
No extensions have yet been granted for some sections set to sunset Dec. 31, 2023, including joint committees and programs such as Article 9 (Joint Committee on Health Benefits), Article 10 (Work-Life Services Programs), Article 14 (Professional Development and Quality of Work Life Committee), Article 15 (Professional Development Committee), Article 18 (Health and Safety Committee), Article 27 (Reimbursement for Property Damage), and Article 42 (Career Mobility Office).
“Article 15 includes several programs that provide significant direct reimbursement for to our members, including the College Tuition Reimbursement Program, the Workshop and Seminar Reimbursement Program, and the Certification and Licensure Exam Fee Program,” Williams said.
The same goes for the Productivity Enhancement Program, or PEP, which allows employees to use a set amount of accruals as a credit toward their employee share of health care premiums and state contributions to Dependent Care Advantage Accounts.
Albany County Probation contract
The board approved sending to members for ratification a tentative six-year Albany County Probation agreement, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, containing no givebacks. For the first time since County Executive Dan McCoy took office, members would be getting more than 2% raises across the board – with this contract locking in two years at 2% and four years at 3%.
“This is the best contract Albany County Probation has ever seen,” said Council Leader Tricia Drautz. “This is a reminder of all the work we did during COVID. We never stopped working for the community and we never stopped working for you. We are proud to be the lead for all other county contracts. I’ve been here 16 years and I have never seen a contract like this before.”
In addition to the salary increases, the contract includes a one-time lump sum bonus of $3,000 – a first for Albany County Probation; added language to ensure probation assistants at Step 20 who are promoted to probation officer start at Step 3 instead of Step 0; and a new salary step for certain employees reaching 20 years of service.
Following ratification by the membership, the agreement must be approved by the Albany County Legislature before it goes into effect.
The board approved the creation of two new Divisions that will be made up of employees at the Office of Cannabis Management.
There are currently 49 hires in PEF Region 8 and 14 in Region 10, with the expectation that there will be significantly more as the hiring process actively continues.
The next Executive Board meeting will take place June 7-9 in Albany.