City officials praise ease of union negotiations

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Representatives from the Union County Drug Free Coalition were at Marysville City Council’s meeting Monday to honor the community school resource officers. UCDFC named the officers as Community Champions. Above, Zavon Ahern, a sixth grader at Creekview Intermediate School, spoke to council about the impact of School Resource Officer Steve Hardy. (Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)

City officials are pleased to have police and fire union negotiations behind them and even more pleased with the process that got them there.
At Monday night’s city council meeting, the group gave final approval to a police union contract through 2022. Last year the city finalized a similar contract with the fire department.
“It is very unusual for a community, certainly a community our size, to be able to negotiate a labor contract like this in house,” City Manager Terry Emery said.
Emery said many communities will hire an outside human resources consultant to negotiate labor contracts. He said those consultants can “cost the city a lot of money.”
“It is incredible that after we get through the contract, unlike most cities our sizes, we don’t have a $50,000 to $80,000 bill with a consultant or law firm,” Emery said.
The city manager credited Human Resources Director Brian Dostanko and assistant Tara Maine.
“We appreciate the effort our staff puts into this,” Emery said.
Dostanko said the credit goes to the department chiefs and leadership.
“They always do a good job of being mindful of all the issues we need to consider and coming to us with concerns of their staff,” Dostanko said. “They do a good job and we are blessed.”
He said the labor-management relationship in Marysville, “continues to be very strong.”
Council member J.R. Rausch said that’s the reason it is possible to handle the contracts in-house.
He said this is the third set of negotiations he has gone through as a council member.
“It is amazing to me how smoothly they go,” Rausch said.
He credited the administration as well as the unions.
“Our union members know we respect them and value them and they come to the table with the attitude that they want to get to a solution and a compromise and everyone is reasonable,” Rausch said.
The contract received three readings but was passed as an emergency, meaning it will be effective immediately. Emery said that as of Jan. 1, city officials began paying union members based on the proposed contract.
Dostanko said there were some issues that needed ironed out, but all matters have been finalized.
Under the contract, union members will receive a 2.75% raise for 2020, a 2.75% raise for 2021 and a 2.25% raise for 2022.
Additionally, union members with certain service benchmarks will be eligible for receive a one-time annual longevity bonus.
Yearly vacation scheduling and annual shift assignment processes will be implemented to help supervisors schedule.
Another item included in the contract is mandatory physical fitness testing.
City leaders were not the only ones expressing appreciation to the police department. Union County Drug Free Coalition representatives were at the meeting to honor the department’s school resource officers, naming them Community Champions.
Nancy Beals, with the Union County Drug Free Coalition, said the award goes to a person or organization that has “helped move our program forward.”
Zavon Ahern, a sixth grader at Creekview Intermediate School, spoke to council about the impact of School Resource Officer Steve Hardy. He said students feel comfortable with the officers and can talk to them about issues.
Rich Baird, North Union Schools superintendent and a member of the coalition, gave a plaque to each of the officers as well as one to the police department.
“The main thing our kids need to learn is that police officers are not there to arrest them,” Baird said. “They are there to help them, like everyone else.”
Mayor Henk Berbee also honored the resource officers. He said the work they do is “a big deal.” He said opioid overdose deaths are down for the first time in years, “because of the message we keep putting out there.”
“To see how much of an impact we have been able to have, collectively, makes all of us proud,” he said.



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