Niagara Falls Water Board members approved a contract with the building trades union that will give workers pay raises over the next three years, but decrease the number of paid days off and health benefits for new hires.

The six-year contract, which is retroactive to 2005, increases salaries across the board an average of 2.5 percent annually from 2007 to 2010 and is similar to an agreement the board approved recently with the steelworkers union.

Water Board Chairman Brian Kane credited employees for negotiating a deal that will help “cut costs and improve efficiencies.” He also pointed out the completed deals now bring all of the water authority’s workers under current contracts.

“The contracts are fair and equitable to both the Water Board and our union employees and will benefit our ratepayers over the long term,” Kane said.

Building trades workers still need to ratify the contract approved during Thursday’s Water Board meeting, said a union leader. He declined further comment.

Gerry Grose, executive director of the city’s water authority, said both the building trades and steelworkers contracts include cost of living increases of $900 a worker this year and next year. In addition, they include an increase of $1,400 retroactive to last year and again in 2010.

The contracts were approved in return for concessions in health insurance and paid time off for sick days and holidays for all new hires. New employees of the Water Board will have to contribute 20 percent toward their health insurance premium and allotted sick days, personal days and holidays will be cut by 50 percent.

Grose said the contracts will have no impact on rates and the future concessions of reduced health benefits and paid days off for new hires will offset any costs of the wage increases.





BY THE NUMBERS

Here are the raise increases for all Niagara Falls Water Authority building trades workers included in a six-year deal approved Thursday:

• Retroactive to 2007: $1,400

• 2008: $900

• 2009: $900

• 2010: $1,400

* The union still needs to ratify the contract