Anoka contract settled one year into two-year deal

by Mandy Moran Froemming
Union Editor

The city of Anoka has finalized union contracts with two groups of its employees, marking the end of extended negotiations.

The two-year contracts for public works and parks workers, represented by Teamsters 320, are for 2011 and 2012.

When the city council agreed to the deal Jan. 3, the city was already a full year into the two-year contract period.

“We are in January of 2012 and voting on a contract that began in January 2011,” said Mayor Phil Rice. “Probably a sign of the times. It’s been, I think, fairly tough and difficult negotiations.”

He said for the past four or five years contract negotiations have been slow and difficult.

“I think the employees can feel good about the direction this is going,” said Rice. “I hope everybody is satisfied with what I think is a pretty positive outcome.”

The contract includes a zero salary increase in 2011. But for 2012 a 1 percent increase went into effect Jan. 1, with another 1 percent to come in June.

According to City Manager Tim Cruikshank, the deal is consistent with approvals made for non-union staff as well as the one union group the city has already settled with.

This is the first wage increase for city staff since 2009.

“We’ve got challenges before us,” said Cruikshank. “We try to reflect the values of the community and the position of the community. The council does a responsible job to hold the line with taxes and we’ve seen zeros and negatives over the past couple of years, we’re trying to reflect what’s happening in the economy.”

Cruikshank said the current contracts are not a reflection of how the city thinks of its employees or the quality of their work.

“It’s more a reflection of the times and where we’re at,” he said. “Striving for that balance is not always easy, but I think the message to the community is that we’re being very responsible and the message to the employees should be that this is no disrespect.”

The agreement with members of Teamsters 320 also includes employer payments for health insurance.

In 2011 the contract included city payments of $650 per month maximum toward the life and single health insurance premiums and $850 for those with family coverage. Contributions were $1,800 and $2,100 annually for single and family coverage respectively, to a health savings account for those employees who opted to enroll in a high deductible health plan.

For 2012, the city added two insurance tiers for single plus one or single plus child(ren) health coverage. This year the city will contribute $650 for single coverage, $675 for single plus one (or child) and $950 for family coverage.

For those employees using the high deductible health plan, those contributions would be $1,800 (single), $1,950 (single plus one) and $2,100 (family) annually. These contributions would be made to the employees health savings account on the first pay period in January, a change from 2011 when those contributions were made incrementally.

“What that does it creates a bit of a safety net for employees who wish to go to the higher deductible plan, but were concerned about if something happened right away at the beginning of the year,” said Cruikshank.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]