Stalled out negotiations finally come to resolution

(Posted April 11, 2014)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The city of London and the unions representing the city’s street department employees, clerks and Board of Public Utilities employees have finally signed off on a contract agreement.

Negotiations started in October but stalled when the city and the unions could not agree on all parts of the contract. In January, a mediator was called in to help the two sides come to a consensus. When that attempt failed, both sides agreed to hire a fact finder to make the decisions for them.

The fact finder reviewed the sticking points and made the following recommendations, which city council and the unions accepted in early April:

Wages. The city proposed no wage increases for three years. The city also proposed rolling back wage levels for clerical units to more closely align with comparable wages in the public and private sectors.

The unions proposed increases of 3 percent per year for each of the three years of the contract.

The fact finder recommended leaving wages as they are, with no increase or decrease, for 2014. His position was that the city needed time to see how the recently passed fire levy impacts the city’s overall financial position. He recommended that the unions have the ability to reopen negotiations regarding wages in 2015 and 2016.            

Health Insurance. For 2014, the city wanted to pay 85 percent of the premium cost and 75 percent of the deductible cost. For 2015 and 2016, the city wanted to pay 80 percent of the premium cost and 50 percent of the deductible. Currently, the city pays 90 percent of the premium costs.

The unions wanted to maintain the 90-10 split.

The fact finder recommended maintaining the 90-10 split for 2014, then allowing the city and unions to reopen negotiations regarding health insurance in 2015 and 2016.

Sick leave. The city proposed capping retirement cashouts for sick leave for employees at 25 percent of their accumulated unused leave up to 150 days. The unions wanted 50 percent. The fact finder recommended maintaining the current set-up of 25 percent due, in part, to uncertainty regarding future health care costs.

The city and the unions split the cost of the fact finding process equally at $1,967 each for a total of $3,934.           

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