Devine optimistic about union pact approvals

Mark Devine

With three new aldermen at the table, Common Council President Mark Devine is optimistic that, eventually, he'll get the council to approve two collective bargaining agreements that the council last year declined to act on.

In December, Devine had a motion to accept two tentative agreements with the local CSEA and AFSCME units but failed to get a second, which meant the deals could not go to a vote. That meeting was the last meeting for now-former aldermen David Wohleben, Larry Eggert and Amanda Farrell.  

"I’m very optimistic that we’re going to get these contracts passed. I can’t say it’s going to be in the next week or two, but I do believe we have to get them passed to move forward," Devine told the Union-Sun & Journal in an interview this week. 

Devine said he hasn't talked to newly installed 2nd Ward Alderman Luke Kantor, 4th Ward Alderman Kelly VanDeMark or Alderman-at-Large Ellen Schratz about the agreements yet, but he's "absolutely" willing to do so.

Returning council members Rick Abbott, 5th Ward alderman, and Joe Oates, 1st Ward alderman, both said previously that they wanted a cost analysis done on the agreements. At this week's council work session, they expressed a desire to have the Bonadio Group, which is filling in as the city's finance director since Scott Schrader left the post in December, to do that cost analysis. 

According to Mayor Michelle Roman, the council would have to contract with Bonadio Group for a cost analysis, since that's beyond the scope of work requested of the firm when it agreed to fill in for Schrader.

While Abbott said the city doesn't have a plan for how to pay for the agreements, in its 2020 budget at least, Devine contends the money is there to cover negotiated raises and the like.

Roman made the tentative deals with the CSEA and AFSCME units, both of whose members have been working without a current contract, and consequently without pay increases, for five years or more. 

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