Arbitrator rules on Teamsters Local 320 and Wadena County contract is-sues
By Rin Porter
Nearly 11 months after the county’s new labor agreements went into effect on Jan. 1, arbitrator Stephen F. Befort delivered his decisions on the unresolved issues between the county and its unit of 19 essential public safety employees represented by Teamsters Local 320.
The collective bargaining agreement previously negotiated by the union and the county expired on Dec. 31. The union and the county negotiated for a new agreement but were unable to see eye to eye on 20 issues.
The issues were submitted to the arbitrator in September, and he delivered his ruling on Oct. 18. The county received it on Oct. 23.
The criteria used by the arbitrator to make his decisions were: (1) the employer’s ability to pay and other economic considerations, (2) relevant internal comparisons, and (3) relevant external comparisons.
The issues to be resolved were decided as follows:
The union asked for a 3 percent wage increase for each year of the contract and a $1.50 per hour “market rate adjustment” for 2013 and for 2014 if more than a one-year contract were awarded.
The county offered a 2 percent wage increase for each year of the contract.
Award: a 2 percent wage increase for 2013, a 2 percent wage increase for 2014, and a 2.5 percent wage increase for 2015.
Duration of contract
The union asked for a one-year agreement for 2013. The county asked for a three-year agreement, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Award: a three-year contract agreement.
The county asked to eliminate the contract provision that states that union employees would be entitled to receive any wage or benefit enhancement that was given to or negotiated with any or all other county employees or elected officials. The union asked for there to be no change in the provision.
Award: the me-too provision will be removed from the new contract.
The county sought to add language to the contract that recognized the county’s right to manage itself as it sees fit. The union did not want to add that language.
Award: the new language will not be added.
Maintenance of standards
The county asked to eliminate a provision of the contract that said that all conditions of employment would be maintained at the highest standards in effect at the time of the signing of the agreement. The union objected to the change.
Award: the provision will not be removed.
The union asked to modify language of the contract to increase the uniform allowances for employees. The county objected to the proposed increases.
Award: uniform increases were allowed, but not as greatly increased as the union had requested.
The union asked to increase the amounts paid by the county for its employees’ health insurance to make them equal to one-half the premium cost of the health insurance, for the purpose of leaving the county’s health insurance plan and participating in another plan. The county opposed the union’s request.
Award: the union’s requests to increase the amounts of money paid for employee health insurance premiums and be allowed to leave the county’s health insurance plan were denied, but the union’s request to permit retired employees to choose coverage under either the county’s health insurance plan or another plan at their own expense was agreed to.
The union asked to increase the allowed clock hours that deputies and jailer-dispatchers work overnight from 8 hours to 12 hours, so that they would receive greater bonus pay. The county opposed the change.
Award: the clock hours were not increased, but the bonus pay was increased from 40 cents per hour to 50 cents per hour.
The union proposed to add a provision to the contract that made the county responsible for providing training required by the POST board to maintain employee licenses as certified deputies, pay employees for all time spent in such training, and reimburse employees for their costs incurred in obtaining training. The county opposed the change.
Award: This provision will not be added to the contract.
The contract issues are now resolved, and the bargaining unit will be required to sign the 2013-2015 collective bargaining agreement with the county. The 19 employees in the unit will be paid retroactively to Jan. 1, 2013, with the 2 percent increase awarded by the arbitrator. It is now known when the back pay will be distributed.