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Winter 2013-14

First time contracts approach finish line

by County and City Employee staff on January 10, 2014

THE FIRST STEP that local unions take when they join Council 2 is to negotiate a first-time contract.

Sometimes management attempts to place road blocks along the way to delay the process. But staff representatives, working with union bargaining committee members, usually find creative ways around those road blocks.

Here is a look at recent efforts:

End in sight

• After a lengthy contract process, a tentative agreement has been reached for the 60 employees of the Pierce County Wastewater Treatment Plant, who are currently members of Local 120 in Tacoma.

“After the county had given them three last, best and final offers, all of which were not worthy of voting on, the county finally compromised and a tentative agreement was reached,” explains Council 2 Organizing Director Bill Keenan.

“The process was assisted by mediation with the Public Employment Relations Commission (perc) to reach this agreement.

“There were a host of issues on the table. Most involved working conditions. Specifically, the issues involve hours of work, on-call and call-back procedures and supervisors doing bargaining unit work.”

The bargaining unit members were united in their position that they would not accept a sub-par contract, Keenan adds.

The members continued to work under the county’s policies and procedures that existed before they joined Council 2.

“They were asking only for the status quo to be maintained,” Keenan says. “They were not asking for more.” 

Study holds up bargaining

• Five bargaining sessions already have been held for 70 supervisors at Fort Vancouver Regional Library.

The hold-up now is that library management is conducting a classifications and compensation study which is due to be completed in April. Until that study is completed, management claims that wage-related issues cannot be negotiated.

“That issue will have to be settled,” Keenan says.

Supervisors’ votes are crucial

• An issue involving the validity of votes is delaying first-contract bargaining for Clark County Facilities Maintenance employees.

The unit has challenged the eligibility of two employees who voted in an election that was won by only one vote.

The union maintains that two of those who voted are supervisors and therefore their votes should not count.

The issue is awaiting a ruling from the Public Employment Relations Commission, a ruling that could take several months.

“If the perc ruling is that the votes do not count, we will start bargaining a first-time contract,” Keenan says. “If the votes are upheld as valid they will be opened and counted. Whether we win or lose is still to be determined.”

Two issues at stake

• In bargaining a first contract, 23 Kitsap County Juvenile Probation Officers face two issues.

One is a proposal that the officers be placed in the county’s master agreement, with addendums specific to their department. The officers are awaiting the county’s response.

“If they agree, we will start bargaining the addendums,” Keenan explains.

“If they don’t, we will set about bargaining a full contract.”

A response is also being awaited on the same issue regarding seven Kitsap County Juvenile Probation Supervisors. They, too, will either be part of the master agreement with their own addendum or will bargain a full contract.

The other issue holding up bargaining is that the county has challenged three positions among the Kitsap County Juvenile Probation Officers; the county says these positions should fall under the Juvenile Detention Department.

Clarification on the issue is awaited.

Once the two issues are settled, bargaining can continue.