ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with a union during its Wednesday night meeting.
The pact with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776 KS addresses various topics including wage levels for employees at Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehab. The union's previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2019.
"This is a workforce that has gone through absolute hell and back, so we need to get this done as soon as possible," said Chairman Geoff Brace.
"These are the people who are the face of Cedarbrook," said Commissioner Dan Hartzell. "This is the group that opened our eyes as to who the real heroes are."
Employees will receive a 2% wage hike retroactive to 2020 and in 2021, and a 2.5% wage increase in 2022.
The bill was approved on first reading. The bill's second and final reading is scheduled for the March 24 meeting.
The board also approved various subrecipient grants. They include emergency rental assistance funding to two organizations: the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley Inc. and the Catholic Charities Diocese of Allentown.
CACLV receives the vast majority of the funding, totaling $23.6 million in direct assistance, while Catholic Charities receives $590,611. CACLV receives another $256,377 for administration and housing stabilization.
"This is a significant moment of relief for renters and property owners," said Brace.
The grant will assist with the expansion project for veterans and brain injury residents with special needs at Mount Trexler Manor, one of New Vitae's personal care homes, located in Limesport. The amount of the grant is up to $500,000.
South Whitehall Township land purchase
Another approved agreement finds Lehigh County purchasing land in South Whitehall Township from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the Cedarbrook project. The purchase price of the land, totaling 1.216 acres, is $22,800.
In his State of the County address on Feb. 25, Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong said of the Cedarbrook project, "We are finally at the point now, we're ready, we're going out on bids, we are building a new four-story wing" at the county home.
Broker service agreement
Commissioners also approved on first reading a broker service agreement with McGriff Insurance Services Inc. to provide insurance placement and employee benefit management services. McGriff will assist the county with the selection of its health care plans for employees and retirees.
Drop boxes for voting
In other news, when asked about whether there would be drop boxes for the next election cycle, Armstrong said "everything that was in place during this last election will be in place for the next election." He added, "It's going to continue the way it was."