|By Brenden West, Clinton Herald, Iowa|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Gallagher hinged the recent arbitration award on the wage increase -- a difference of
Firefighters will make
Those premiums are still low, according to city Finance Director
"When I came here, it was unusual that I wasn't asked to contribute," Dalton said. "I was quite amazed by that actually."
However, the ruling is costing the city -- slightly for now; who knows how much down the road.
Dalton said netting the union's increase versus what employees are paying back is a
Both help avoid personnel and services cuts in a general fund that is mostly payroll.
But uncertainty continues.
If other unions negotiate similar pay increases and maintain lowly 3-percent premiums across the board, the net costs could begin to add up, Dalton said.
"With a lower budget, there's not as much room for negotiation," Dalton said. "We were asked during the budget sessions to cut the emergency levy for Fiscal Year 15. Having to work within those parameters, that's where the 0.5-percent pay increases came in."
During 609's arbitration hearing, the city went "above budget" offering a 1-percent wage increase.
The city council has longer-term collective bargaining agreements in mind, Dalton said. She didn't speculate what those agreements could look like. Like anything budget-related, success is tied to
"If the tax base grows, funding to the city grows, and then the city can increase services," Dalton said. "Whether that means hiring additional firemen or having more police officers. It all really comes back to that."
So, while the latest award is considered palatable, arbitration is creating unease within the city.
"If the city and the union can't come to an agreement, and an arbitrator gets involved, there's just uncertainty about it," Dalton said. "Not just for us as the city department, but for the employees that are involved. They put their fate in the hands of an arbitrator who normally is probably a fair person, but you never know what kind of person you're going to get."
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