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Willmar City Council OKs labor contracts with pay freeze through year's end

WILLMAR -- City employees will receive no wage adjustments in contracts approved Tuesday by the Willmar City Council.

The contracts with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees General Unit and AFSCME Public Works cover staff at the City Office Building, the Public Works Department and at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The contracts expire at the end of the year.

The contracts were recommended by the council's Labor Relations Committee.

The committee has met on a couple of occasions in closed session to discuss contract negotiations and issues.

The last such meeting was held Jan. 13.

Committee Chairman Steve Ahmann said the contracts acknowledge that the administration will review the city's personnel policy and procedures with regard to considering adjustments for the cost share of safety glasses and updating the city-wide and departmental seniority lists. After the council approved the contracts, Ahmann thanked the employees for their understanding during the current economic situation.

"We appreciate their dedication to employment with the city and we hope that relationship will continue,'' Ahmann said.

"My biggest concern is we provide a safe environment for the employees and they also have a good friendly environment. I hope that will continue and that better times will come for all of us.''

Mayor Les Heitke thanked the Labor Committee and city staff for their hard work in moving the contracts to completion.

Pay freezes are also in effect for top city officials, department heads, first-line supervisors and confidential employees under agreements approved by the council last November.

In other business, the council:

- Approved a one-year airport operations agreement with Maximum Cruise Aviation LLC of Willmar, which serves as the airport's fixed base operator, to perform daily activities necessary to keep the airport safe, accessible and operational.

General management responsibilities will shift from the Public Works Department to the Planning and Development Services Department.

- Established a policy that controls out-of-state travel by elected officials. The city already had a policy covering out-of-state travel by employees. The additional policy was recommended by the League of Minnesota Cities and the State Auditor.

- Was thanked by Willmar resident John Sullivan for posting the council's agenda packet, which includes committee meeting minutes and other information, on the city's Web site in advance of council meetings. Sullivan had urged the city to post the information as a service to citizens.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150