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Council tables labor vote

May 28, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council was scheduled Tuesday to vote on a labor contract with an employee group, but the matter was tabled after representatives of the group requested a last-minute change, city officials said.

The council is now scheduled to vote on the collective bargaining agreement next week, Mayor William M. Breichner said.

The proposed contract is with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local No. 1540, which represents about 150 city employees in the public works and water and sewer departments, along with other city employees.

The proposed agreement would run through June 30, 2004.

The union has been without a contract since July 2002. The city has abided by the terms of the existing contract pending agreement of the new pact.

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Under the terms of the proposed agreement, union members would receive wage adjustments totaling 2.5 percent retroactive to July 1, 2002, and 3.14 percent effective July 1, 2003.

During Tuesday's council meeting, union negotiator James Bestpitch met with John Budesky, director of administrative services, in Budesky's office down the hall from council chambers.

Later in the meeting, Breichner and City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman left the meeting briefly to discuss the situation with union representatives.

As the council got to the agenda item on the contract, one of the final items on the agenda, Zimmerman distributed a copy of a revised motion and asked the council to take a minute to read the new language.

The proposed added language to the motion reads as follows: "The mayor and council are hereby stating its intent that should remaining contract negotiations result in a higher compensation package to another employee group, AFSCME 1540 will be provided the same level of additional compensation."

But Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he objected to the last-minute change and asked that the issue be tabled until a future meeting so there could be further discussion.

Changing a motion at the last minute is not a good way to negotiate, Metzner said.

Breichner suggested the council have a five-minute executive session to discuss the matter immediately but the council voted 3-2 to table the action, with council members Kristin B. Aleshire and Penny May Nigh opposed.

A few minute later, Breichner asked again for the council to go into executive session and this time the council agreed. The council later adjourned without taking any action.

Bestpitch said he would not comment until after the council votes on the contract.

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