WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New Employee Contracts for Lee County Unions

May 9, 2018

Some Lee County employees will be working under new contracts during the fiscal year that begins July 1. But not everyone is on board with the final agreements.

The one-year deals cover employees in the secondary road department and workers in the administrative unit. Members of each union will receive 1.5% wage hikes.

The contracts also include previously negotiated provisions:

  • Seniority
  • Hours of Work
  • Overtime
  • Holidays
  • Vacations
  • Special Leaves
  • Health & Safety

Lee County Board Chairman Don Hunold said it made sense to keep these issues in the contract.

“We are not going to change those things,” said Hunold. “So that was not bothersome to us at all. We thought that was fair and that’s kind of how we did it.”

A new state law approved by the Iowa Legislature in 2017 establishes wages as the only mandatory subject for contract talks with public employee unions.

Topics such as overtime, holidays, and vacations are considered permissive and can only be negotiated if the local governing body agrees. And there are a few issues that cannot be negotiated including insurance, evaluation procedures, and staff reduction procedures.

Lee County did choose to remove one permissive topic and place it in the employee handbook: employee grievance policy.

That decision prompted a 3-2 vote by the county board to ratify the contracts. Hunold, Rick Larkin, and Ron Fedler voted in favor while Gary Folluo and Matt Pflug voted against their approval.

Folluo said the grievance process should be in the contract as opposed to an employee handbook.

“The [County] Board can review [employee handbooks] every six months or whatever and can change language in them anytime they want to,” said Folluo.

Folluo said he’s worried the decision could eventually lead to legal action against the county.

The 1.5% raise for the employees in the secondary roads department and the administrative unit is in line with the employees in the sheriff’s office, whose contract expires June 30, 2019.