- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - The union representing about 80 city employees in Mitchell has filed unfair labor practice charges with the state Labor Department.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2922 alleges the city is failing to bargain in good faith, The Daily Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1MVrM5B ).

Union attorney Mary Leary claims the city unilaterally implemented a 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase during reopened collective bargaining agreement negotiations without conciliation. Leary says the union is seeking a 4 percent cost-of-living increase for its members.

A resolution approved by the city on Dec. 21 established the 2 percent increase before Wednesday’s conciliation session. Leary said that shows the city had already made up its mind.

The city rejects the union’s allegation, and City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said the union “jumped the gun on this.”

Mitchell officials say the city wanted to present employees with the union with the same 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase given to all other Mitchell employees. But the city says the union protested its attempt to put that increase into effect.

Ellwein said the city redid the payroll so no employees represented by the union would get cost-of-living increases at this point, “as a matter of good judgment, and to avoid legal fees involved in defending the unfair labor practice.”

Many of the city employees represented by the union are responsible for maintaining the city’s streets, sewers and parks.

The labor practice charges are pending before the Hughes County Circuit Court.

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This story has been corrected to show that the union represents about 80 employees, not 175.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com


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