May 25, 2022
May 25, 2022
Commissioners Scott Miller, Scott Blain, and Bill Bullock; and Administrative Officer Angela Newell were present.
8:30 Pledge of Allegiance.
Union Negotiations. Hannah Nash AFSCME Field Representative, Union President Phil Nardinger, Eric Walker, Tyson Bauwens, Human Resource Specialist Kate Asbury, and County Attorney Alex Nixon were present.
Discussion about Grievance and Arbitration Procedure and the possibility of conflicting out a Commissioner in step 1 with an initial complaint. Replace Road Superintendent with Human Resource Specialist. Discussion regarding fleshing out the “informal discussion” contemplated in Section 6. Commissioners agree it is helpful but want to make sure there is documentation on file.
Holiday pay or straight comp time. Union requested Comp accrue at 1.5x for work on holidays. Bullock expressed concerns about leave liability with the ability to reach the comp max sooner. Discussion about possibly allowing comp cash out to help alleviate leave liability.
Hazard pay and past practice of paying 1.5x regular rate on top of regular rate. Discussion about DNRC reimbursement. Discussion about guaranteeing “hazard call out at 4 hours” at the elevated rate. County also would like to add language about fire team and training requirements. “Only members who have responded to the bulletin for the County Road Fire Team and who have received all annual training will be eligible for fire fighting duties and fire hazard pay. Equipment assignments will be made at the pleasure of management until incident command can establish an operating plan.” Discussion about fire boot allowance, Commissioners agree it is probably time to increase the allowance, but would like it limited to those on the Fire Fighting team. Discussion about equipment assignments and how those assignments are made. Walker noted he has equipment preferences.
Sick leave. Altering language regarding work interruptions to match County’s revised FMLA.
Discussion about operating equipment, Union would like to guarantee that all employees have the ability to operate all types of equipment. County believes it is enumerated in job description.
Discussion about Medical Examiner Certification (MEC). County would like to require MEC and add reference to CFR in in the Agreement. Discussion about what happens is someone can not maintain MEC; likely would result in an ADA discussion to entertain reasonable accommodations.
Mike Keys joined the meeting.
Discussion about gravel crushing expectations; some of that is addressed in crushing contract. Also discussion about MSHAW training and what is expected of the road crew.
Discussion about contract length. Bullock is ok with 3 year, but wonders if the new fire fighting language may need to be amended sooner. Nash confirmed that an MOU as an addendum could be done in the interim.
Fiscal package. Union asked if want to discuss multi year vs. past practice of annual negotiations. Nardinger would like to have increase to keep up with the economy. Bullock noted county wide is 5.7% cost of living increase (4.7% CPI plus 1% increase) and an additional $99/mo for insurance premium contributions. Union would like to lock in increases over the term of the contract for the next three years.
CPI +1% 7/1/23
CPI +1% 7/1/24
Bullock concerned that the County can not afford to lock in with the unpredictable nature of the CPI at this time. Bullock would like to remove longevity if locking in at those rates. Nash proposed CPI cap, or locking in insurance contribution at current rate.
Union pushed for 6% effective 7/1/22 with an annual wage opener. Bullock agreed that annual wage opener is probably best, would like to try and get caught up going into next two fiscal years, but are concerned about the uncertainty of the current economy. Blain noted trying to be responsible, want to be fair to employees but also concerned about fiscal responsibility.
Discussion about wages continued. Blain outlined full increase in compensation package of 8.6% including CPI 4.7%, raise 1%, longevity 1%, and health insurance premium increase equivalent to 1.9%. Also discussed longevity language in CBA and benefit in policy that has been applied historically. Nixon noted raises in other Counties, last year Gallatin was the only County that provided a higher increase (some of which was due to having got behind). Nixon noted history is to give every employee (Elected Officials down) the same benefit. Blain noted efforts in the last years to improve and upgrade equipment including adding trucks and graders to improve working conditions. Also looking at possibility of adding staff to help offset the workload. Commissioners are most comfortable with continuing the annual opener for wages and benefits. Nash asked if County is not likely to acknowledge Union vs. non-union classifications.
Bullock noted employee classifications exist within statue for deputies of elected officials. County’s preference is to apply same increase County wide. Nixon acknowledged that County values all employees equally and would like to apply increases universally. Nash noted perception that Union does not have value because they have same benefits as other employees. County outlined benefits for holiday pay, standby pay, and the wage schedule receiving the full 5.7% increase (rather than being tied to a percent of the Elected Official wage as are other pay scales).
Respectfully submitted: Angela Newell, Administrative Officer