Coon Rapids Council approves union contracts

Negotiated contracts with two of its employee bargaining units were approved by the Coon Rapids City Council Dec. 17.

One was with the public works employees through the Minnesota Teamsters Public and Law Enforcement Employees Union and the other was with the firefighters through the International Association of Firefighters Union Local 1935.

The members of the two unions have ratified their contracts.

Both contracts are for three years, 2014 through 2016, and both call for a 2.25 percent increase to base wages in 2014 and a 2.5 percent increase in each year, 2015 and 2016, according to Matt Stemwedel, assistant city manager who headed the city’s negotiating team.

Other provisions of the public works contract include allowing employees a choice between the existing sick leave incentive program and the city’s wellness program and a letter of understanding to address the issue of the use of seasonal and temporary employees performing public works related functions, Stemwedel wrote in a report to the council.

For the firefighters, the contract increases the uniform allowance by $10 per year to $485 in 2014, $495 in 2015 and $505 in 2016, he wrote.

In addition, effective Jan. 1, 2014, newly-hired full-time firefighters will not be eligible to receive post-retirement health benefits, according to Stemwedel.

The contract also amends the longevity schedule to 5 percent of base salary after eight years, 7 percent after 12 years and 9 percent after 16 years; they were previously achieved at 10, 16 and 20 years, respectively, Stemwedel wrote.

The firefighters’ agreement also creates a separate wage schedule for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014, which will accelerate advancement to top firefighter pay and is designed to offset the loss of post-retirement health benefits provided to existing firefighters, according to Stemwedel.

Under the contract, firefighters hired after Jan. 1, 2014 will reach top base pay after seven years instead of eight years, Stemwedel wrote.

“This is the earliest I can recall that we have had two union contracts approved for the coming year,” he said.

Negotiations on new contracts for the city’s two other bargaining units, police officers and police sergeants, began recently, Stemwedel said.

In addition, the council Dec. 17 approved a 2.25 percent cost of living salary increase for non-union employees, which mirrors the union contracts.

The 2014 wage schedule for full- and part-time non-union employees has 24 pay grades and nine steps within each grade, with each salary minimum about 75 percent of the range maximum, according to Stemwedel.

“The pay grades have been adjusted to implement the findings of the compensation study related to the Minnesota Pay Equity Act and market conditions,” Stemwedel wrote.

In 2012 the city retained Springsted Inc. to conduct a classification study which was completed in 2013.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]