Richland County Engineers bargain another successful local contract

Posted Mar. 6, 2024 by

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When Richland County Highway Chapter 7020 President Hank Fultz and his union team headed to the bargaining table at the start of the new year, he wasn't sure what to expect. It was his first time bargaining a contract on behalf of his members in the county transportation department, but he knew that fighting for members' top priorities was central to the chapter's strategy.

Before heading to the table, Fultz and his chapter executive board engaged in an “Organizing 101” campaign to prepare for bargaining. “Our guys have opinions on everything,” said Hank who knew the team would be able to tap into the membership to gather the priorities and stay focused on them at the bargaining table. “We have two outposts and one main garage, and the executive board took their own time after work to talk one-on-one with every member about their priorities,” he said. When it came down to it, wages and “comp” time won out.

“Going in, I was nervous and thought we had a fight on our hands. We stood strong and remembered those top issues every step of the way,” said Hank.

Ultimately, the union came out victorious with a wage package that equated to roughly 13% over three years and a one-time contractual stipend at the start of the contract. The union and management also mutually agreed to an additional 1% increase for heavy equipment operators that would encourage employees to promote from within. Both the union and management agreed that an additional increase for that classification would be good for recruitment and retention.

The union also fought until the very last day and was victorious in maintaining current comp time, which management tried to come after. "Management came in with proposals to cut comp time in half and to reduce annual carryovers. But we stuck to our guns and talked them off the issue," said Hank. The union also maintained current language for health care and added protections regarding sick leave and disability usage. The bargaining team also got updates on the use of the overtime roster for sign placement, which benefits all members.

"Being as this was my first contract, I think it's absolutely great," said Hank. "I've worked some really hard jobs most of my life. This is a great job, and I'm glad to have been involved in making people's lives just a little easier and to make this a place where people want to come to work," he said.

"I'm thankful for my Executive Board members and my co-negotiator Matt Cook who helped make this all happen. I couldn't have done it without them," he said.

Download the contract at