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Mill Creek City Council unanimously approves new employees union contract and pay plan

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The often-contentious collective bargaining negotiations between the City of Mill Creek and the employees’ union were finalized this week when the city council voted 6–0 in favor of approving a new four-year contract at their special August 7, 2017, meeting.

By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.

The often-contentious collective bargaining negotiations between the City of Mill Creek and the employees’ union were finalized this week when the city council voted 6–0 in favor of approving a new four-year contract at their special August 7, 2017, meeting.

Councilmember Mike Todd was on vacation and couldn’t attend the meeting.

The new contract falls within the city’s adopted 2027-2018 biennial budget according to Director of Communications and Marketing Joni Kirk.

Collective bargaining between the City of Mill Creek and city employees affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1811-M began early last year, well before the existing contract expired on December 31, 2016.

Negotiations between management and labor reached a point in May 2016 when the union requested formal interest based bargaining from the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission.

It seems that communication between city management and labor started breaking down about then, resulting in an increased level of mistrust on both sides.

The city and employees union representatives signed a tentative agreement on July 20, 2017.

At the time the tentative agreement was reached City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto commented, “This is significant news for the City, and we appreciate the work on both sides that helped us get to this point. Management takes very seriously the desire to provide good working conditions, wages and benefits while doing so within the City’s financial means.”

The new contract is retroactive to January 1, 2017, and continues until December 31, 2020.

Some of the major provisions of the new contract are as follows:

  • The IT Director’s classification is reclassified to IT Manager and included in the bargaining unit.
  • The City Manager’s Executive Assistant is classified as a confidential employee and excluded from the bargaining unit.
  • Customer Service Representatives working more than one-sixth (1/6) the hours of fulltime employees will be included in the bargaining unit. Existing part time customer services representatives brought into the bargaining unit will have seniority determined based on date of hire. Part time customer service representatives are not guaranteed a fixed number of hours — their work schedule will be variable based upon service demand.
  • Sick leave will no longer be counted as “hours worked” for purposes of calculating overtime.
  • Wage increases for the duration of the contract are as follows: 2017 Wages - 2.0% wage increase, 2018 Wages - 2.25% wage increase, 2019 Wages - 2.25% wage increase, and 2020 Wages - 2.25% wage increase.
  • Effective January 1, 2018, the city will move employees to their choice of two health plans. These plans are the same ones offered to members of the Mill Creek Police Guild, which greatly simplifies things for the city.
  • The boot allowance for applicable employees will be increased from $200 to $250 per year.
  • The City will limit its use of interns to 480 hours per intern per 12 month period. The City will pay AFSCME a service fee of $75 per intern.
  • The City and Union agree to form a labor management committee to meet on a regular basis to provide a forum for communication between the parties.

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