ASHLAND — Employees at the Ashland County Department of Jobs and Family Services are set to get raises starting Oct. 1 with the renewal of a three-year union contract.
Employees part of the union, AFSCME Local 958, will receive a 10% wage increase starting Oct. 1. Wages will then increase by 3% in 2024 and 2025.
The new contract, which Ashland County commissioners signed Sept. 22, also includes updates to rules surrounding the filing of grievances, layoffs and recalls, unpaid leave, military leave, insurance, overtime pay and other areas related to the workplace.
JFS director Peter Stefaniuk said the changes reflect a desire to retain employees.
“The big issue is wages,” he told commissioners. “We want to make sure we keep our trained and talented staff who can go to other counties.”
Stefaniuk said he believes the contract does a good job of keeping Ashland County JFS positions competitive, specifically in its public assistance and child-support units.
The new contract also allows hiring managers to offer prospective employees up to 20% more than the entry level salary if the person has prior experience. Prior to this contract, that number was 15%.
The move allows hiring managers to attract trained and talented employees for their respective unit, Stefaniuk said.
Stefaniuk said the new contract also closes a loophole that sometimes resulted in employees using two weeks of discretionary leave before resigning.
“Someone might get approval during the two-week resignation period … so sometimes we’ll have employees take advantage of the approval, so they won’t appear very many days at the agency but technically still employed, but they’re exercising leave,” Stefaniuk said.
“So we don’t get the benefit of having them there to transition them to the new employee.”
The director said the contract for union employees and exempt employees addresses the issue.
Wages for employees outside of the bargaining unit will increase, too. Those positions typically represent management.
Exempt staff are set to receive a 5% increase to their wage starting Oct. 1. In 2024 and 2025, the wages will increase by 3%.
Other changes involve increasing meal allowances during travel and expanded its definition of longevity.
The agreements, both with union and non-union employees, are set to expire Sept. 30, 2026.
Stefaniuk said he feels confident the agreements, which came after a couple months of negotiations, are “very good.”
“I feel very positively on what we came to,” he said.
The wage increases, he said, will not put additional burden on local funds.
“Most of our funding comes from the state and federal government,” he said.