Pennsylvania's Bucks County Security Officers Can't Get Raise

Bucks County security officers who formed a union in October will not receive cost-of-living increases along with other workers because they have not yet negotiated their first contract, a county commissioner said Wednesday.

While all other county employees were approved for 3 percent raises Wednesday by the commissioners, the board was forced to withhold the raises from the staff of 25 security guards, known as the Bucks County Security Guards Association. Commissioner Charles H. Martin said the commissioners can't give them raises until a contract with their association has been reached.

"They have opted to become unionized, and they are subject to negotiations," he said.

Three other members of the security staff -- Thomas P. O'Rourke, the director of security, and a lieutenant and a sergeant -- did receive cost- of-living raises. They are considered supervisors and are not union members.

Carmen Thome, county director of human resources, said no negotiating sessions have been set with the guards' union.

Security guard Edwin Howe, a leader of the new union, was unavailable for comment.

Martin said he believes the association is the first union created by county employees in several years. More than half of the county work force is unionized.

Starting annual salary for guards is $33,665. After six months, their pay increases to $34,676. Other than cost-of-living adjustments, they receive no other increments.

The guards provide security in the courthouse as well as other county buildings, such as the family court building across the street from the courthouse in Doylestown.

Martin said he understands that 19 of the guards voted in favor of creating the union.