- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s largest state-employee union is asking its 45,000 members to approve a one-year extension of their contract.

Gov. Tom Wolf and David Fillman, executive director of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Tuesday that negotiators for both sides had endorsed the extension.

The union’s more than 200-member policy committee approved the proposal Friday. Rank-and-file balloting results from the more than 200 locals are expected by May 1.

Neither Wolf nor Fillman would say whether it would change employees’ pay and benefits, but Fillman described the agreement as “very brief.”

He said the goal is to provide “a breather” for the new governor as he focuses on winning legislative support for a multibillion-dollar plan that calls for an increase in the state income and sales taxes to close a $2 billion budget gap, provide additional funding for education and reduce school property taxes.

The deadline for approval of a state budget is June 30.

“Hopefully, he’ll get some resolution with these budget issues and maybe there’ll be a more stable atmosphere” for collective bargaining, Fillman said.

Asked about it at an unrelated public event in Hershey, Wolf said the proposal reflects a mutual desire for fairness.

“It reaffirms what I’ve been saying - that you treat employees fairly, they treat you fairly. That’s the way I ran my business and that’s the way I want to run the commonwealth,” he told reporters.

Under Wolf’s predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett, AFSCME negotiated a four-year pact that included a wage freeze in the first year and subsequent increases totaling 10.75 percent.

Of the nearly 72,000 full-time, permanent state employees in the executive branch, about 59,000 are covered by unions, said Dan Egan, spokesman for the governor’s Office of Administration.

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