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When Carol T. DiFrancesco approached the Brown administration a few months ago about honoring a long-tenured crossing guard, she mentioned something else: Could the guards get paid for Columbus Day, like most other city employees?
“All of the sudden, we were talking contract,” said DiFrancesco, president of the Buffalo Crossing Guards Association.
So began the guards’ brief and uncontentious negotiations with the city for a new contract.
The Brown administration filed the document with the Common Council on Thursday, which includes provisions for a living wage, greater employee contributions toward health care, and a stronger residency requirement – as well as that new paid day off every October.
The association of 141 guards voted to approve the document unanimously, DiFrancesco said.
“They were very fair with us and very good with us,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey agreed, calling negotiations “very fair.”
The five-year contract, retroactive to July 1, 2010, contains no raises for the first two years. However, a living wage of $10.78 per hour began Sept. 1, 2012, as a starting rate, and $11.05 per hour as the final level in the five-step wage scale, with three nominal increases in between.
In addition, 2 percent wage increases will take effect in 2013-14 and 2014-15, the final two years of the agreement.
The guards will maintain a 10 percent contribution for single and family health insurance coverage; new hires will pay 20 percent.
Effective immediately, all guards must be city residents, according to the contract, which is subject to Council approval.
The new agreement, which ends Aug. 31, 2015, also includes provisions that allow the city to drug-test crossing guards and perform medical evaluations to test their physical fitness for the job.

email: jterreri@buffnews.com