A new contract for 310 borough employees comes before the assembly for approval on Thursday.
The three-year agreement with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Employees Association, the borough’s largest labor group, provides the public workers a salary table increase of up to 3% during fiscal years 2023 and 2024 depending on the Anchorage consumer price index.
If a disaster is declared by the Borough Assembly, the borough will pay up to 40 hours of additional leave to employees who have not been offered work beginning the second full week of the disaster.
The contract requires workers to maintain 24 hours of leave balance for emergency or unanticipated use.
On health care, the contract raises the biweekly employee contribution to $140 for single employees and to $180 for employees with families by fiscal year 2024. Those rates are currently $125 and $155.
Other changes include increasing a wellness fund from $50,000 to $75,000. A frame allowance for eyeglasses is increasing from $90 to $120.
The negotiations, which began in October, were contentious.
In April, Borough Mayor Bryce Ward wrote a letter to the union complaining about the slow progress and expressing frustration that the union was asking the borough to yield management authority.
At one point, the union asked for a $2,000 lump sum payment for each of its members to make up for “leave loss” during the height of the Covid-19 shutdowns last year.
In its initial contract request, the employees association asked for salary tables to be raised by 5% plus a cost of living allowance, a new work schedule of four, 10-hour days plus an additional holiday — bringing paid holidays to 14.
The union asked for more freedom to work from home and double-time compensation for employees asked to work during operational closures.
The union asked for employees working from home to be compensated for Internet service, a phone line, office equipment and any additional liability, homeowners or rental insurance.
The borough said no to all of that and agreed to provide workers exposed to unsanitary conditions up to 10 minutes of release time “for personal hygiene.”
Michelle Michel, borough human resources director, told the assembly that the contract applies to 69% of the borough workforce. The union ratified the contract on June 18. Michel and Chief of Staff Jim Williams were lead negotiators for the borough administration.
Agreements are inked and approved for the borough’s two other unions, covering managers along with bus drivers and mechanics.
The new contract for the employees association aligns with goals set out by elected leaders prior to the start of negotiations, according to Michel.
“Thanks to the negotiating team for all of your hard work,” said Leah Berman Williams, chairwoman of the assembly finance committee.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMborough.