COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The City of Columbia and LiUNA Local 955 continued negotiations over the city's water distribution workers' salaries on Tuesday with the union saying that progress was made.
The two sides met at the Columbia Convention and Visitors Center at 1:30 p.m. with negotiations lasting over an hour. According to the union, the negotiations will impact 23 of the city's water distribution employees.
This comes after Local 955 wrote in on Monday statement that negotiations with the city were “going south” and that they would “be announcing serious escalatory actions or we will be announcing that a deal is in place.”
While no deal was reached, union representative Andrew Hutchinson said the two sides took a step in the right direction.
“We were able to make some significant strides in this negotiation,” Hutchinson said after the meeting. “The city is willing to have a discussion on how we can move these workers into the collective bargaining agreement in a way that is equitable, transitions them and does not disadvantage them.”
Hutchinson added that the union is hoping to reach a deal by the end of the year.
“There are still a lot of details that need to be hashed out," Hutchinson said. "But we went from the city saying we’re not interested in negotiating to now making some significant strides.”
The city told ABC 17 News in a statement on Tuesday, that it provided a 4% increase to all employees in June. Then in October, employees “received a minimum of 2% depending on where they fell on the pay scale compared to the new minimum for their position outlined in the City’s classification and compensation study. This was agreed to by the Water and Light Association,” the city wrote in an email to ABC 17 News.
“They felt that Water and Light had already received pay increases and our position is we need to make sure these guys are being slotted into the Local 955 agreement,” Hutchinson said. “So, we didn’t want to move into negotiations next year with these guys far behind because it was just going to overcomplicate things so we are trying to get them to where our other members are now”
Water distribution workers rallied outside of City Hall in October after they claimed the city violated their rights under the Missouri Constitution. Water distribution wanted to join Local 995 for better wages and working conditions.
Over the summer, water distribution workers requested that the city recognize their attempt to join Local 955. That request came on July 20th. The City didn’t hold a meeting about it until September 11th, which frustrated water workers who accused the city of dragging their feet, according to Hutchinson.
According to the release from Local 955, the two parties traded proposals until September 15th when the city decided to ignore negotiations and just implement its own budget.
Eventually, the City Council approved voluntary recognition for LiUNA Local 955 on Oct. 16.
Hutchinson said they are expecting a counter proposal from the city within the next two weeks.
“The City continues to negotiate with Loal 955, which those employees are now members of, on how to position them into the 955 pay plan," the city told ABC 17 News in an email on Tuesday. “The City of Columbia charter prohibits us from getting into negotiation details, but we continue to negotiate terms with Local 955.”