A new contract with the city's Public Service Department and Parks Maintenance workers allows for modest raises while continuing the city's aim to shift more of the burden of healthcare costs to employees.
Westerville City Council on Feb. 5 approved a three-year contract with the roughly 50 employees represented by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union AFL-CIO-CLC District 1.
The contract grants the union workers 2.25-percent raises this year and next, and a 2-percent raise in 2015.
It also transfers more of the costs of healthcare to the employees.
The city currently pays 90 percent of the employees' healthcare premiums, while the employees pay 10 percent, said Department of Administrative Services Director Adam Maxwell.
That will change to an 88-12 split this year and an 85-15 split for 2014 and 2015.
The city traditional has shouldered 90 percent of employees' insurance costs, Maxwell said, but in recent negotiations, the city has worked to move away from that.
"There was a lot of talk about moving away from that 90-10," Maxwell said. "Employers, public and private, are asking their employees to pick up more of the insurance burden."
Nonunion city workers already have moved to the 85-15 split, Maxwell said, and the Fraternal Order of Police agreed to the same phase out as the public service union in its most recent contract.
The city now is in negotiations with its firefighters union and is working on a similar insurance deal, Maxwell said.
With the changes to the public service union alone, the city would save an estimated $115,000, Maxwell said.
That estimate assumes that insurance costs would not increase, something that's highly unlikely, he said.
The raises, meanwhile, will cost the city about $120,000 a year, Maxwell said.
Maxwell said the city appreciated the union's willingness to work on an insurance deal, which drew out the negotiating process. The contract expired at the end of September but the new contract wasn't completed until last month, though the holidays played some role in the delay, Maxwell said.