Soldotna city workers' new contract now up to council

Agreement includes pay increases, health insurance change

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Union represented employees of the city of Soldotna have ratified a three-year contract with the city, agreeing to a 3 percent pay hike in the first year and 3 1/2 percent increases in the second and third years. The contract is subject to approval by the city council Wednesday.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) contract covers about 28 city employees in the Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works, the library and city hall, but does not cover members of the Soldotna Police Department, who are represented by a separate union.

The IBEW raises are effective July 1 of each corresponding contract year, beginning with this year.

Also included in the new pact, future increases in the employee health insurance premiums will be split 50-50 by the city and the employee, according to City Manager Tom Boedeker. The change applies to increases effective July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

Currently the city pays 75 percent of the increase and the employee picks up the remaining 25 percent.

Long-term employees those with more than 10 years of service to the city will be eligible for an additional two hours per month of annual leave accrual.

At 24 hours per year, that amounts to three extra days off, according to Boedeker.

A change in the hiring provision in the new contract allows the city to bring in a new employee at a pay rate higher than Step 1.

"The new provision now allows us to hire at up to Step 5," Boedeker said.

A new provision of the contract rewards employees assigned to standby duty. If the city assigns a person to be on standby for reasons such as possibly coming to work to drive a snowplow if necessary, the employee will be paid $1.50 per hour for each hour he or she is on standby. If the employee is actually called in to work, he or she will be paid at the appropriate overtime rate and the standby pay will cease.

According to Boedeker, the issue of being paid while on standby but not actually coming in to work, has been contentious in the past.

Also under the new contract, employees will be allowed to donate up to 20 hours of their sick leave to fellow employees in the event of lingering or incurable disease, recovery from an accident or recovery from an emergency that might result from a disaster such as losing a house to fire.

The city is currently in negotiations with members of the police department, whose contract expired June 30. Talks are expected to continue until a new agreement is reached, according to Boedeker.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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