York City electrical workers will have to wait at least two more weeks before a new three-year union contract is official.

In the meantime, members of the York City Council are compiling a list of questions about the contract, which would retroactively go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, and extend to Dec. 31, 2015.

The city administration and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers negotiated a "give-and-take" agreement, said Thomas Ray, the city's deputy business administrator for human resources.

The contract, if approved, would increase worker wages by 2.3 percent in 2013, 3.0 percent in 2014 and 3.2 percent in 2015. Those increases would cost the city an additional $35,409 over the three years, according to a contract summary provided to the council and the public.

But employees would also contribute more toward their health insurance. For example, a single person's monthly contribution would increase from $60 in 2012 to $77 by 2015.

Employee co-pays for prescription drugs would also see a modest increase.

The city council, which has the authority to approve or reject a negotiated contract, voted 3-2 Wednesday to table the matter until its June 4 meeting. Council members plan to ask more questions of business administrator Michael O'Rourke at the council's 6 p.m. committee meeting on Wednesday, May 29.

The contract could return for a vote on Tuesday, June 4.

Councilmen Michael Helfrich and Henry Nixon both said they need more information before voting.


For example, Helfrich said, he'd planned to ask about the proposed wage increases. Five minutes before the meeting, Helfrich said, he learned that electrical workers hadn't had a raise in four or five years.

"When you know that, you look at a contract a little bit differently," he said.

Council President Carol Hill-Evans said she wants to know "that we are being as fair but as cost-effective as possible."

Delaying approval by two weeks is better than rejecting the contract and potentially sending the city and union back to the negotiating table, Helfrich said.

But that also means the employees will have to wait two more weeks for a raise. Workers have already waited a long time, said Matt Paules, business manager for the local IBEW.

Negotiation began in October and ended in March, he said. He said both sides made concessions and reached a fair agreement with "modest" wage increases for the workers.

The union understands the city's difficult financial situation, Paules said.

"But we have to advocate for the workers as well," he said. "They have budgets. They have families."

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.