Lynnwood and union reach settlement

  • By Oscar Halpert Enterprise editor
  • Thursday, January 31, 2008 4:54pm


City officials reached a settlement Jan. 15 with the union representing 82 clerical and technical employees over an unfair labor practices complaint the union filed in 2007.

It’s the most recent city labor contract to be settled. In late 2006, the city agreed to a new contract with the union representing firefighters, and last year, the Teamsters, which represents many of the city’s utilities and maintenance employees, reached agreement on a new contract.

In October 2007, the bargaining unit for local 3035 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed a complaint with the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission, which acts as a mediator in public employee cases.

The AFSCME complaint criticized the city for ignoring union proposals and for not adhering to Interest-based bargaining, commonly referred to as “win-win” negotiating.

Frank Navage, president of local 3035, said in late 2006, the union agreed to a city request to wait a year before renewing a contract set to expire Dec. 31 of that year. Union officials asked that certain conditions be met in order to extend the contract deadline.

Among other details, the union insisted that cost of living pay increases, additions to longevity pay and compensation time issues for 2007 discussed early, along with 2008 contract concerns. Navage said the city balked and insisted that many compensation issues should be discussed at a later time.

As the months passed, Navage said, it became clear to the union that the city wasn’t really interested in Interest-based bargaining.

“We were just getting stonewalled by the bargaining team,” he said. “What really ticked us off was we were the only ones making proposals.”

He said union officials were also upset that the city in 2007 hired Yakima labor management lawyer Anthony Menke, who Navage said was brought in “to break the union.”

Paul Krauss, the city’s community development director who was part of the city’s bargaining team, said Menke was not brought in to break the union.

“He was the guy who negotiated the original AFSCME settlement,” Krauss said. “It was the union that walked away from the table and filed the (unfair labor practices complaint).”

Krauss also said Mayor Don Gough initiated the Interest-Based Bargaining approach when he came into office in 2006.

“It worked very successfully with the Teamsters,” Krauss said.

Navage said in signing the agreement, the union decided to drop its demands for 2007 pay increases, calling it “water under the bridge.” In exchange, the city agreed to pay every employee a lump sum payment.

The agreement also says the union and city will get additional training in Interest-based bargaining.

“I really don’t understand what purpose is served by doing a ‘he said, she said’ through the media,” Krauss said.

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