Tri States Public Radio Staff
Beats July 1st Deadline
Thu June 20, 2013
Keokuk Approves Union Contracts
The Keokuk City Council has changed its collective mind when it comes to new contracts for most city employees.
The panel has voted to ratify new three-year agreements with employees in the police and fire departments, the general unit and at the wastewater treatment plant.
The vote came just two weeks after aldermen rejected the tentative agreements because the city would have paid an employee fee connected to the Affordable Health Care Act.
Mayor Tom Marion says the city met with representatives of the unions/bargaining units earlier this week.
He says the two sides agreed to change the language to where the city would pay the fee in year one and hold the option to renegotiate paying it in years two and three.
Marion says if the city decides to reopen the contract to address the fee, the unions/bargaining units would have the ability to renegotiate wages and nothing more.
Employees are scheduled to receive annual wage increases of 2%, 2.5%, and 2.5%.
At-Large Alderman John Helenthal says he voted against the contracts, two weeks ago, because of the questions surrounding the health care fee.
He says the changes led him to vote yes this time around because it maintains some flexibility for both sides.
3rd Ward Alderman Ron Payne, who was on the negotiating committee with Helenthal, voted against the contracts for a second time.
He says there is too much uncertainty so he had to vote no because of his questions.
Mayor Tom Marion says the contracts do includes some language changes involving residency and uniform allowances.
Several of the contracts were set to expire in less than two weeks.
Marion says the contracts were headed to arbitration without the second, affirmative vote, which could have cost the city around $25,000.