Jan 14, 2022 1:09 AM

City service employees soundly reject city's contract offer

Posted Jan 14, 2022 1:09 AM

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Hutchinson city service employees have soundly rejected the latest contract proposal from the city.

A vote of the employees on Thursday afternoon saw 95% of the Service Employees International Union members reject the contract.

Esau Freeman of the local union says that the city's use of flexible scheduling to avoid overtime pay was one of the major sticking points, along with callback times for employees. Freeman also said that workers did not like the article that allows the city to call back workers on straight time instead of premium time for up to two hours after the work day is over. The city also wants employees to report within 30 minutes of being called out.

Freeman says, while the union represents many different employees in the city, it really centered around Public Works and the water and sewer departments where employees can put in significant overtime if called out for winter weather or interruptions in service.

After the city council discussed the contract two weeks ago, City Manager Jeff Cantrell noted that the two sides had met and seemed to cover some ground. However, the employees still rejected the offer and Freeman says the city is not bargaining in good faith.

The SEIU covers about 125 city employees, which is about 1/4 of the city's workforce, and includes Public Works, parks and other service positions. The contract is on the agenda for discussion and action by the Hutchinson City Council during Tuesday's meeting.

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