City of Buffalo building inspectors reach new contract

City of Buffalo building inspectors reach new contract

Buffalo city building inspectors will get a new contract after working under a collective bargaining agreement that expired about three years ago.

In the labor charter, the union has made gains in wage increases, additional personal days and increases in automobile allowance, said Keith Ogden, president of AFSCME-AFL-CIO Local 2651.

Health care concessions have been made for retirees, including switching to generic medications unless there is a pre-existing condition or a doctor needs some form of brand-name medication, Ogden said.

The agreement covers 61 budgeted positions. There are 50 positions currently filled, Ogden said. He expressed his hope to fill the remaining positions in the next fiscal year.

“That’s what we’re hoping for is just to get the full complement of individuals here so we can do our jobs,” Ogden said.

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The agreement covers the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2026. It stipulates a 2% annual salary increase on July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. It also includes a 2.5% annual increase in annual salaries on July 1, 2022. And a 3% increase on July 1 2023, July 1, 2024, and July 1, 2025.

The union ratified the contract in August by a vote of 46 to one.

The new collective bargaining agreement has been recommended for approval by the Common Council Finance Committee and will be voted on Tuesday by the full council.

Under the agreement, the City will continue to provide health insurance to the surviving spouse and/or eligible dependent of a Local 2651 member who died while actively employed by the City for up to 18 months at the deceased member’s contribution rate, provided the dependent is not eligible for Medicare or other alternative coverage.

As a response from the union, new employees will not be covered under the health insurance plan when they retire, Ogden said. Before the new agreement, anyone hired after 2009 paid between 15% and 20% of their post-retirement health care coverage. Ogden said. Anyone hired before 2009 was paid nothing.

As a cost-saving measure for the city, the agreement requires union members to obtain the generic equivalent for all newly prescribed medications for which a generic equivalent is available. If a member chooses to continue receiving a brand-name drug instead of the generic equivalent, the member will be required to pay the brand-name drug co-payment plus the difference in retail cost between the brand-name drug and the generic equivalent. If there is no generic equivalent, or the physician provides prior authorization, the member is entitled to receive the brand name drug and pay only the copay for the drugs.

In addition, frequently prescribed medications for chronic conditions will be dispensed through the mail in a 90-day supply, rather than in person at a pharmacy.

The agreement, which was reviewed by Buffalo’s Financial Stability Board earlier this month, includes an increase in the automobile allowance from $22 per day to $40 per day (or $20 per half day).

In addition, all members will receive the same personal leave increases regardless of their date of hire, and an additional personal leave day will be provided each year.

The city and union have also expanded the list of safety equipment that will be provided to members to ensure they are properly and safely equipped to perform their job duties.

Written by Deidre Williams

News staff reporter

(tags for translation)afscme-afl-cio local 2651

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