SIDNEY — Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFCME) Local 2429 will hold an informational picket Monday, July 13, from 6 to 7 p.m. in front of the Sidney City Hall on Poplar Street.
The union members, said Marcia Knox, bargaining representative for the local union, said they will be holding signs to let their employers (city of Sidney) know they have an issue with the contract the city presented to the employees.
“We received the city’s last best offer about two weeks ago,” said Knox. “We had a vote on it by the members on July 9 and they overwhelmingly voted it down.”
Local 2429 represents the city’s full-time service, maintenance and clerical departments. The union and the city were engaged in numerous negotiating sessions trying to come to an agreement for a new contract. The previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2014.
The city and union have been negotiating for a new contract since Oct. 14, 2014. The union members have voted on a contract, but it was rejected earlier in the year.
After the unsuccessful negotiations, Dennis M. Byrne was called in to gather a fact-finding report. Prior to the April 22 hearing, Byrne attempted to mediate a settlement but was unsuccessful. There were 20 issues addressed at the hearing at which both parties explained their positions on the issues and discussed their areas of disagreement.
Council rejected the fact-finding report in May. At that time, Mayor Mike Barhorst said the biggest disagreement involved wages for the employees.
Knox, during a phone interview Sunday afternoon, said the new contract did include a change in salary increase.
“The new contract called for a 1 percent increase when the contract is ratified for the first year,” said Knox. “We’re in the seventh month of the year and the increase would start when the contract is ratified.”
The city, she said, wouldn’t pay for the increase retroactive to the beginning of the year with the proposed contract.
The fact-finder’s report, she said, called for a 2 percent increase for the union employees the first year of the contract.
“The fact-finder said the (Local 2429) employees are being treated totally different than the rest of the city employees,” said Knox. “We’re not asking for a ridiculous amount of money. For them (city council) to fight that, we just don’t understand it.
Knox said she doesn’t know what the employer will do.
“They could implement the last best offer which would be upsetting to the employees,” she said.
All the members of Local 2429 want is to be treated like the other union members for the city, said Knox.
“They (the city) fared better than we did in the fact-finder’s report,” said Knox. “We asked for quite a few things but the fact-finder stayed with the current language in the contract and he refused the new language.”
There are 46 employees eligible to become members of the union, she said. The members had approved the fact-finder’s report, which was rejected by Sidney City Council.
“We have been negotiating in good faith,” said Knox. “We’re just saying what the employees need to have their work environment better.”
Members of Local 2429, she said, haven’t have an increase in pay for three years. Other unions for city employees have had between a 1 to 3 percent increase over the life of their contracts.
“These are quiet people who do what they are paid to do,” said Knox. “But they are getting more tired (of not getting answers).
“They are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she said. “They want to let council know this. These are the people who take care of the city services.”
The contract the parties is negotiating is from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2017.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.