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Armstrong complaints dismissed

Union rep DeBoer walks through what happened

January 25, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The city of Armstrong faced five prohibited practice complaints before the Iowa Public Employee Relations Board filed May 31. Preston DeBoer, northwest Iowa representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dismissed the complaints Jan. 18.

DeBoer said the matters of unions and collective bargaining are "often misunderstood and misrepresented" in the general public.

DeBoer said, "The Prohibited Practice complaints filed with PERB were dismissed by me as part of an agreement between the parties, whereby the city agreed to resume/finish negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement."

DeBoer said one union member remains in the collective bargaining unit. The city and the union member drafted a final agreement in advance of the Jan. 16 city council special open meeting. The vote was 4 to 1 to formally approve the agreement.

"There are three city employees included (covered) in the collective bargaining unit. There was one voting member remaining who was signed with AFSCME prior to Jan. 16, though all members are represented by the agreement under state code. The other two city employees signed with AFSCME as union members Jan. 16, after the union contract was finalized," DeBoer said.

Rumors circulated in Armstrong and beyond which implied if one of the union members lost his job, he would be allowed to bump another employee from his or her position under the union contract.

DeBoer said, "There are no provisions or agreements [to this effect] and non-member employees would not be asked or required to sign such an agreement as it would violate state code that requires organizations such as AFSCME to represent all bargaining unit members whether they have signed with AFSCME (paid dues) or not."

In a city government like Armstrong with a small number of employees, why have a union, citizens of Armstrong had asked.

DeBoer said, "Public employees in Iowa have the right to organize a collective bargaining unit regardless of size as long as the required percentage of the defined group votes in favor of creating a unionall employees included in the unit are covered under the terms of the contract with the employer, not just those who choose to pay dues. The only differences are that those that choose not to pay dues are not involved in the decision making processes or the election of the union officials of their [local, state, or international] union.

DeBoer defined the word "collective" as used in collective bargaining. "Collective refers to employee benefits for all employees, not just the dues paying members. Collective means the option for any employee to choose to join and participate in the work of the union or not to join or participate without giving up the benefits that union member work hard for an pay for to ensure their right to do so."

The Armstrong contract is effective Feb. 1, 2018, and will become public information available through the PERB website in the near future, DeBoer said.

The next scheduled meeting of the Armstrong city council is Feb. 12.



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