The Camden County freeholders have reached a tentative agreement with the union representing more than 300 corrections officers on a contract covering 2006 to 2012, county officials said Wednesday.
Union officials said the pact would make the privatizing of corrections jobs at the county jail in Camden less likely. It also would provide for pay hikes and require employee health insurance contributions.
The agreement awaits approval by the freeholder board, which is expected to take action at its meeting June 17 in Winslow Township. Union members in Police Benevolent Association Local 351 ratified it late last month.
"With the support and cooperation of the corrections officers, we were able to make cutting-edge structural changes to contracts," Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said in a statement Wednesday. "These changes reflect the absolute necessity to control the cost of government. Camden County has consistently moved in this direction over the last several years."
Cappelli praised union officials for "the responsible manner in which they approached negotiations in these difficult times."
Though corrections officers made some concessions, they also secured salary increases and compromises on other issues, county officials said.
Union members "voted in a manner to reflect their dedication and commitment towards the people of Camden County while giving the elected officials the ability to control the costs of operating the jail and staffing it with sworn law enforcement correction officers," Local 351 president Robert Parker said Wednesday.
The agreement calls for retroactive pay increases of 3.9 percent in 2006, 3.75 percent in 2007, 3.75 percent in 2008, and 2.9 percent in 2009, the officials said. Further details on this arrangement were unavailable.
There would be no raise this year and 2.9 percent hikes in 2011 and 2012, the county said.
"The union negotiated a contract agreement that I believe is fair to all parties concerned," Parker said. "It's good for them and good for us."
The agreement requires employees to contribute toward their health insurance and to pay higher doctor and prescription co-pays, while retirees also must pay toward their health insurance.
The pact also eliminates step increases for new employees by restructuring their salary scale, and it places a cap on unused sick time that can be sold back, the county said.
At the same time, corrections officers will be given a "a measure of job security," though county officials provided no further details.
Provisions also were outlined to move to 12-hour shifts, which would reduce overtime, the county said.
"The privatization issue has been diminished extensively, and the agreement between the PBA and county demonstrated a greater understanding to that effect," Parker said.
In an effort to reduce the 73 percent recidivism rates among inmates, the county also agreed to work with corrections officers to make better use of treatment and reentry programs.