Contract Agreement Reached With Athens 911 Dispatchers

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A labor agreement has been reached with Athens County's 911 dispatchers after both the union and county commissioners accepted the recommendations in a fact-finder's report.

The commissioners accepted the report on Tuesday, and said the union had already adopted it. The 10 fulltime dispatchers in the bargaining unit are represented by the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

The county's 911 dispatchers have been working under terms of a contract that expired Dec. 31. After negotiations failed to produce a new agreement, a fact-finder was selected from a list provided by the State Employment Relations Board.

The fact-finder heard the positions of each side on the unresolved issues and fashioned a proposed settlement, which both sides have now accepted. Had either side rejected the report, the matter would have gone to binding conciliation and a conciliator would have decided the contract.

The dispatchers will receive 2 percent pay increases in each of the first two years of the new contract, and 3 percent in the third year. The union had sought 3.5 percent for each year, while the county had offered 1 percent each year.

Also sought by the union, but rejected by the fact-finder, was an additional $1.25 per hour in supplemental pay because the dispatchers are now dispatching for Athens County Emergency Medical Service. Fact-finder William Binning said he took that into consideration when he recommended the regular pay increases.

However, the fact-finder did recommend dispatchers be paid an additional $1 per hour when they serve as training officers. The amount had been set at 50 cents per hour, and the union had requested it be increased to $1.50.

The county had requested that the 15 percent premium share paid by employees for family medical, prescription, dental and vision insurance coverage be increased to 20 percent, but the fact-finder kept it at 15 percent.

The fact-finder also addressed an issue that arose when County Commissioner Charlie Adkins, serving as acting 911 director, issued a memo saying that when the 911 scheduler makes calls to find a dispatcher to work a forced shift (when another dispatcher calls in sick, for example), those being called have one hour to respond.

The county withdrew the memo during the fact-finding hearing. The fact-finder said he found the memo "excessive and unreasonable," but also rejected language sought by the union because Binning felt it would interfere with the county's right of mandatory call-in.