VALHALLA, N.Y. – After being without a contract since late 2008, Westchester County correction officers agreed to a contract settlement Monday with the county that will require employees to contribute to their health-care and a reduced salary schedule for new hires.
Alonzo West, president of the Westchester Correction Officers Benevolent Association union, called the ongoing negotiations a hard fought battle and was content with the final agreement.
“COBA members have been working without a contract for a long time,” West said in a statement. “We wanted to reach a deal that not only protected their interests, but would also provide some stability going forward.”
The new seven-year contract covers 690 officers at the Valhalla penitentiary, the largest law enforcement agency in Westchester County. Current employees will be required this year to pay 12.5 percent of the annual cost of the health-care premiums, which equates to approximately to $2,600 for a family plan and $986 for an individual. That contribution amount will rise to 15 percent by 2015. New employees will be required to contribute 20 percent to the premium. Under the new contract, employees will receive a 2.6 percent raise each year.
County Executive Rob Astorino said the new contract agreement is in line with the current financial times.
“No contract can ever fully satisfy both parties,” Astorino said. “But this new agreement is a realistic response to the financial conditions confronting county government and our taxpayers who pay the bill.”
In January, the county announced that it was actively seeking new officers for the Department of Correction. According to the county, the starting salary of a correction officer in Westchester is approximately $50,000.
The contract has been approved by the union rank and file, but still needs to be ratified by the county Board of Legislators before going into effect.