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Webster County union agreements approved

County engineer’s contract is renewed

Without directly addressing state-level efforts to change law governing collective bargaining for public employees, Webster County Supervisor Merrill Leffler spoke highly of the local bargaining units as the supervisors approved tentative agreements Tuesday.

The board approved agreements for secondary roads employees, represented by Public Professional and Maintenance Employees Local 2003; and for deputy sheriffs, courthouse employees, and jail employees, all represented by Teamsters Local 238.

“I wanted to publicly thank all our bargaining units,” Leffler said. “I think the county and our bargaining units always do a good job of bargaining in good faith.”

A bill before the Legislature would bar most public employee unions from negotiating for anything other than base wages.

The agreements reached this year change how employees pay for their health insurance.

Before, 100 percent of a single worker’s premium was paid by the county. In the year beginning July 1, the employee will begin paying 2.5 percent of the cost. Beginning July 1, 2018, the employee will pay 5 percent.

“It’s just a good way to get them to participate in the costs of the insurance,” Leffler said.

Asked about the proposed law, Leffler said no matter what happens in Des Moines, he believes the county and the groups here will continue to negotiate in good faith.

“I know there are big changes down there, but I don’t know if that will change how we bargain in the future,” he said.

The contracts also call for a 2.5 percent wage increase in the coming year, and the year after that, as previously suggested.

The supervisors also renewed County Engineer Randy Will’s contract for another two years. The contract includes 2.5 percent raise like most other employees in the county. Will’s current salary is $115,800.

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