- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LOWELL, Mich. (AP) - A city manager in western Michigan has apologized for withholding raises and taking other actions against city workers who joined a union.

Lowell City Manager Mark Howe was accused of withholding raises and bonuses from union workers and threatening to replace them with non-union workers, The Grand Rapids Press reported (https://bit.ly/1E1xSSz ). Howe said he was looking out for the city and its residents.

Doyle O’Connor, an administrative law judge, wrote in a 2013 opinion that the actions were intended in part to “punish the employees” for joining the union.

“The goal, in sum, was to destroy support for the union,” O’Connor wrote.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical workers filed an unfair labor practice complaint. Howe took issue with the judge’s harsh words, but said in a report to City Council being shared this week that his actions violated labor laws by withholding a $1,000 pay increase.

“I apologize for that decision and my actions in this matter and believe that it does not minimize my accomplishments thus far or cast a shadow over the many great things we can accomplish by working together,” Howe wrote.

Seven or eight city workers, out of 25, joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in late 2011. The union filed its complaint after a water department worker was denied a raise. Howe had argued that bonuses and raises were part of negotiations.

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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