Escanaba, city electrical workers continue contract negotiations

ESCANABA — Escanaba city administrators and electrical employees continue to work towards a labor agreement as crews and staff remain on the job without a contract going into the eighth month.

The city’s latest contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) expired June 30, 2017.

City administration and union representatives have been unable to reach a consensus during the negotiating process to date, which has included a state mediator and a Michigan Employment Relations Commission fact-finding on comparable wages and pensions.

According to Phil Iorio, an attorney for the local IBEW union representing the city’s 11 electrical workers, a hearing between the two parties was held on the fact-finding recommendations issued by an expert in the field of state labor relations.

Though the recommendations are non-binding, they can be used as a “roadmap to reach an agreement,” said Iorio, noting the union wants a fair resolution including a 3-percent annual salary increase rather than the 2-percent hike the city is proposing in a three-year contract.

According to City Manager Patrick Jordan, who declined to speak specifically on the ongoing negotiations, the next mediation session is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Jordan did say the city has reached labor agreements with the four other unions representing city employees including public works clerical staff, water/wastewater workers, public safety command, and police officers and dispatchers.

Each of these four contracts are three-year pacts which include a 2-percent cost-of-living annual wage increase effective for the 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 fiscal years.

In addition, Escanaba’s 2017-2018 budget includes 2-percent wage increases for non-union administrators for the current fiscal year. The city is currently working on its budget for the upcoming fiscal year which begins July 1, 2018.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,