WALKER — County Administrator Robert Yochum reported Tuesday a two-year agreement has been reached with two Cass County employee bargaining units. Three more have scheduled employee votes on the same terms. One goes to mediation.
Administrator Robert Yochum and two county board members who comprise the personnel committee negotiate in behalf of the county. In some cases, an affected department head may also be on the negotiating team. Commissioners Jim Dowson and Dick Downham serve as the personnel committee this year, with Neal Gaalswyk as alternate.
Only Teamsters Local 320, representing deputies and jailers, has called for mediation on the county’s proposed contract terms.
The board voted Tuesday to hire contracting labor attorney Tom Fitzpatrick of Brainerd to assist the personnel committee in the mediation, which is scheduled for Feb. 25. Yochum said union representatives did not seek a vote from their membership prior to calling for mediation.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents two bargaining units of 114 employees, has voted to accept agreements covering employees working in the courthouse and at health, human and veterans services. The board approved their contract Tuesday. The county employs about 250 people total.
The contract calls for zero increase to the wage scale in 2011 or 2012 from 2010 rates. About 55 percent of the AFSCME membership will qualify for about a 3 percent increase in pay July 1 each year by moving one step up the 10-step scale to recognize completing one additional year of employment with the county.
Unchanged from prior contracts will be a provision that provides a once per year lump sum payment Dec. 1 each year to employees who have worked for the county 10 or more years and do not qualify for step increases. That longevity pay equals 1.5 percent of the employee’s monthly base pay, multiplied by the total years of Cass County service.
Also continuing a provision from prior year contracts, the county and each employee will pay half of any increased health insurance premiums each year.
Yochum said this contract will stand unless mediation or arbitration with any other bargaining unit force the county to pay a significantly larger settlement to other county employees. If that should occur, AFSCME reserved the right to reopen negotiations with the county, Yochum said.
Other unions representing county employees and dates the employees are scheduled to vote on the same contract terms AFSCME employees approved include a Teamsters unit representing sheriff’s dispatchers and records personnel, Feb. 3; a Teamsters representing assistant county attorneys, Feb. 15; and Local 49 of the International Union of Operating Engineers highway department unit, Feb. 9.