Bloomington’s municipal workers turn out for city council meeting, labor negotiations continue

A couple dozen members of the AFSCME Local 2487 attended Bloomington’s Wednesday city council meeting, to highlight for councilmembers their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with mayor John Hamilton’s administration—without getting into details of those talks.

As Local 2487 president Bradley Rushton put it, “I cannot discuss any aspect of the current state of affairs between the union and the city reps.”

But union members are looking for better compensation than their current four-year contract gives them.  The current labor agreement runs through the end of 2022.

The acronym for the union name stands for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union includes workers in utilities, the street and fleet divisions of public works, parks and recreation, sanitation, and the animal shelter, among others. Rushton serves the city as a fleet maintenance master technician.

Rushton led off his remarks during public commentary with a word of thanks to the city council for supporting the police union in their efforts to negotiate better compensation. In September last year, the city council  passed a resolution supporting more money for police officers.

The police union is on the same four-year contractual cycle as the AFSCME workers. Earlier this year, in mid-May, the city council approved a contract with police officers that started with a 13-percent increase in the first year.

The city’s administration had made the police contract contingent on the council’s approval of an increase to the local income tax, which the council gave in early May.

Rushton told the city council that fair compensation has to address the rate of inflation. Continue reading “Bloomington’s municipal workers turn out for city council meeting, labor negotiations continue”

Vax-or-test policy: Lawsuit against Bloomington filed by three city unions contends new regs on COVID-19 impose new unnegotiated employment conditions

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday against the city of Bloomington in Monroe County circuit court claims that a new COVID-19 policy is in conflict with union contacts.

The city’s policy requires employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or get tested weekly for an infection. If any employee does not show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly, then under the policy, they will be “removed from the workplace until they provide a test result.”

Absences caused by failure to comply with the vax-or-test policy will necessarily mean lost income. The policy states: “They will not be allowed to use benefit time to cover their absences; the absence will be unpaid.”

On Saturday morning through mid-day, a dozen or so members of the city’s AFSCME local, including some workers in the public works and utilities departments, demonstrated on the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington against the city’s vax-or-test policy. They held signs with slogans like, “Please Don’t Abuse Loyal Employees” and “Keep Compassion in Fashion”

The lawsuit contends that the city’s new policy imposes new conditions of employment that the City did not negotiate with the unions. Continue reading “Vax-or-test policy: Lawsuit against Bloomington filed by three city unions contends new regs on COVID-19 impose new unnegotiated employment conditions”