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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Employee Contracts Tonight

It's very good news that tonight's special budget meeting agenda includes two-year contracts for all seven of the city employee bargaining units.  All of the units have agreed to 0% cost-of-living adjustments for 2011, in light of the state of the economy, declining revenues and state cuts, and the recent low rate of inflation.  The two-year contracts include a COLA of 1% for 2012, which I think is a good trade-off for the certainty of having agreements in place and knowing that we won't have to spend months on contract negotiations again next year only to see a higher COLA than that.  The employees are getting that 1% increase, but they're also accepting the risk that inflation might spike over the next two year period.

There are a lot of other details about the agreement that are important but take a lot more explanation.  In particular, changes to health care insurance coverage that were part of the package in the last round of contracts have paid big dividends to the city (and the employees) in holding down the growth in our health insurance costs.  A few more tweaks should be approved to help continue to keep a lid on those costs while maintaining quality health care for our employees.

After the strained state of labor-management relations in Maplewood just a few years ago, the smooth process in this round of contract negotiations is a welcome change, with all the contracts settled before we set our final levy and approve the 2011 budget, and no contracts going to arbitration.  And given the details of the contracts (such as that 0% COLA), I think it's fair to say that the comity in city hall hasn't short-changed the taxpayers one bit.

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