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City settles with Teamsters; one "no" vote

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Marcia Nelesen
January 14, 2014

JANESVILLE—Councilman Matt Kealy was the sole “no” vote when the Janesville City Council on Monday OK'd a labor agreement with Teamsters Local Number 695, with Kealy saying he believed the union “played” the city.

Kealy said the union dragged its feet until it was forced into mediation so workers would not have to pay into the Wisconsin Retirement System.

The Teamsters represents 30 transit employees who include full-time and part-time bus drivers and mechanics. It does not cover supervisors.

The contract agreement is the result of six negotiating sessions and the help of a mediator from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

The vote to approve the three-year contract—which dates back to 2013 and includes wage increases of 2 percent this year and 4 percent at the beginning of 2015 and another 2.25 percent at the end of 2015—was 6 to 1.

Many public workers were required to pick up half of the contributions to their retirement accounts with the passage of Act 10. The city previously had paid the entire contribution.

Transit workers will pay 6.65 percent of their salaries as contributions to their pensions in 2014.

Contributions for transit workers in 2015 would be capped at 7 percent, even if the employee share of the contribution should exceed 7 percent.

No other group of city employees has that guarantee.

Administrative employees began paying half of their contributions in 2011. Police, fire and public works employees began paying in January 2013.

“This unit drug their feet as long as it could to not contribute,” Kealy said. “I think if there would have been any raise, they would have it asked to be retroactive through the year.

“I think the city was played to drag this out as long as they (the union) could,” Kealy said.

Act 10 removed much of the bargaining power from unions that represent many public workers, but transit workers are exempt because of federal law. They are still able to bargain all aspects of their contact. Firefighters and police officers are also exempt from Act 10 by state law.

In other business, the council:

--Opted to settle a lawsuit with Lexon Insurance Company. Kennedy Homes, which is now insolvent, had purchased a bond with Lexon that guaranteed the city would have the money to grade and build sidewalk at the site Kennedy was developing near Highway 26 and east of John Paul Road. A bond is a sort of insurance policy.

When Kennedy folded, Lexon said it should not have to pay because the development didn't occur.

The city and Lexon have now agreed that Lexon will pay for sidewalk and grading in the part of the development that already has public improvements.



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