The governor and leaders of the largest state employees union confirmed Tuesday they’ve reached tentative agreement on a one-year contract running from July 1 through June 30, 2016.
The tentative deal – first reported Monday night by Capitolwire.com – is now going to members of District Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for ratification.
The AFSCME council represents about 45,000 workers employed by all state agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction, the 14 state-owned universities, and the three state row offices.
If approved, the new contract, while minimal in its reach, takes a major issue off the table for the first-year governor – both in terms of fiscal planning and staff time and energy.
PennLive learned from union sources Tuesday that the deal carries a step increase of 2.25 percent that would take effect Jan. 1, 2016. That would effectively limit payroll increases to about 1.125 percent through the fiscal year.
According to the state’s Office of Administration, the average AFSCME worker currently earns a salary of $41,896. The mid-year increase proposed would take that person’s salary to $42,839 as of January.
Wolf expressed satisfaction with the proposed deal after an unrelated public appearance in Hershey Tuesday.
“What I like about it that it reaffirms what I’ve been saying, that if you treat your employees fairly, they treat you fairly. That’s the way I ran my business, and that’s the way I want to run the Commonwealth,” Wolf said.
State employees’ current health care benefits would remain unchanged.
Dave Fillman, Council 13’s executive director, declined comment on the specifics of the deal Tuesday, saying he did not want to release details before all members have had a chance to learn about them.
But other labor sources noted the deal did get the approval of AFSCME’s Policy Committee Friday, setting the stage for local ratification votes over the next two weeks.
The possibility of a one-year deal was apparently first broached by AFSCME negotiators in preliminary discussions with former Gov. Tom Corbett’s negotiating team in late 2014, according to sources familiar with the talks.
Those talks went nowhere, sources said, but the idea of a one-year pact had strong appeal to Wolf’s team, which gets immediate labor peace at a time when the governor is striving for other major tax and policy changes.
If AFSCME members accept the deal, it will, according to past practice in state government, likely become the template for a series of other pacts with smaller unions representing about 15,000 other state workers.
All the contracts on that cycle would then come up for a new round of negotiations in 2016.
State police troopers and state corrections officers negotiate on a different cycle.