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Local 49 signs 3-year contract with county

By Rin Porter, Special to the Pioneer Journal

At the March 5 meeting of the Wadena County Board of Commissioners, commissioners announced a three-year labor contract settlement with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49, AFL-CIO, which represents the workers at the county highway department.

The contract will be in effect until Dec.31, 2015.

Like the contracts of other bargaining units that have already settled, this contract includes a 2 percent wage increase in 2013 over 2012 levels, and 2 percent wage increases for the second and third years of the contract (2014 and 2015).

The contract does not contain the “me too” clause that existed between county management and county employees during the previous three-year contract.

The contract was signed by Board Chair Dave Hillukka, Deputy Auditor/Treasurer Tammy Lupkes and union official Perry Schmitt during the board meeting.  The union’s business manager, Paul Ptacek, was unable to attend the signing due to the major snowstorm that affected Minnesota on March 4 and 5. None of the signers made any statement at the time of the signing.  

Teamsters Local 320’s two units, referred to as the general and essential units, are the only remaining groups of county employees who have not approved a labor agreement for the 2013-2015 period.

Also during the board meeting, commissioners and County Attorney Kyra Ladd discussed the drafting of a written employment offer for newly hired Interim Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves, whose employment begins March 11.

Taves had an oral agreement with Hillukka, who offered her the position following the conclusion of the job candidate interviews last month.  Ladd told the board Taves should be given a written statement of the terms of her hiring.

Ladd also told the board Taves’ situation is unique among county employees at this time, because although Taves will be filling the position of Auditor/Treasurer, she has not been appointed to the position. Instead, she has been hired for a specific period that runs until Dec. 31, 2014.

Human Resources Consultant Cheryl Goettig was present at the meeting and participated in the discussion among the board and Ladd.

The board approved a motion out

lining the terms of Taves’ employment: She will receive a salary of $62,000 per year, prorated in 2013 because she will not be an employee for a full calendar year. She will not accrue sick time or vacation time because elected officials in Wadena County do not accrue sick time or vacation time; she will take time off for illness or vacation as she sees fit. Also, she will be required to participate in Wadena County’s health insurance plan. And finally, she will report to the board of commissioners during the period of her employment.