LAKE STEVENS — A Lake Stevens public works employee who got a protection order against his boss is trying to get his job back after the city fired him in July.
The city accused Mike Bredstrand, who had worked there for over a decade, of several acts of workplace misconduct between August 2022 and January of this year.
In his July 6 termination letter, Public Works Director Aaron Halverson alleged Bredstrand didn’t finish a performance improvement plan, didn’t attend mandatory training, engaged in “inappropriate horseplay” at work, performed work without taking safety precautions and failed to follow orders not to discuss a workplace investigation into him with fellow employees.
“You have eroded my trust and faith in your ability to perform work based on clear expectations and integrity, and to perform your work safely as a Crew Worker for the City of Lake Stevens,” Halverson wrote. “Accordingly, I have determined there is just cause to terminate your employment.”
“Someone in the city needs to say this isn’t the right path,” as Bredstrand awaits a decision on whether he can get his job back, she argued in an interview Wednesday.
The city has spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees after bringing various disciplinary actions against Bredstrand, who served as a union shop steward, public records compiled by Brown show.
“Why would the city waste so much time and money persecuting an employee?” Brown asked at Tuesday’s meeting. “That is exactly the question the City Council members should ask.”
Halverson, Mayor Brett Gailey and City Administrator Gene Brazel didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bredstrand, 48, thought he’d work for the city until he retired. Now he spends his days working in his yard and figuring out a backup plan. Bredstrand now feels the city is “just out for revenge.”
“It’s absolutely ridiculous and horrible,” he said Wednesday. “It blows me away.”
Bredstrand’s relationship with the city has long been tenuous.
The firing came after two disciplinary actions against Bredstrand that resulted in lengthy grievances.
In one case, the city argued Bredstrand violated city policy in an October 2021 meeting with ex-Public Works Director Eric Durpos. The tense meeting ended with Durpos raising his fist in the air and striking his bicep with his other hand in a gesture known as the “Italian salute,” records show.
Shortly after the meeting, Bredstrand filed for a restraining order in court against his boss. A District Court judge approved the one-year order barring Durpos from contacting or coming within 15 feet of Bredstrand or his family. It also prevented Durpos from being within 300 feet of Bredstrand’s home and from trying to surveil Bredstrand or his family.
In June of this year, an arbitrator found Bredstrand didn’t violate any city policy in that meeting with Durpos. The arbitrator ordered the city to rescind a written warning issued to Bredstrand.
In another case that went to arbitration, the city suspended Bredstrand without pay for a day in March 2022 after he was accused of sleeping through a virtual training and failing to submit a complete report about it.
Again, about two weeks after the city fired him in July, another arbitrator revoked Bredstrand’s suspension.
Bredstrand has filed for arbitration on his firing and an arbitrator has been selected, Brown said. She expected a hearing on that wouldn’t come until next year. She’s confident Bredstrand will get his job back.