One of city's 3 unions OK's contract; Council to consider it Tuesday

By Terri Harber June 10, 2013 09:51 am

By Terri Harber

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Baker City and the Baker City Employees Association, BCEA, have reached a tentative labor agreement that calls for 1 percent raises during the first two years and an increase of up to 1.25 percent the third year.

Baker City Councilors will decide whether to ratify the contract when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St.

BCEA members, most of whom work in the public works department, have ratified the contract, City Manager Mike Kee wrote in his weekly report to the councilors compiled Friday.

Some councilors have been adamant that the city not approve raises for employees in new contracts because the city needs to keep personnel costs in check. Overall revenue hasn’t increased significantly while employee expenses, especially the cost for employee health insurance, are on the rise.

The city has three unions — in addition to the BCEA, police officers and firefighters have separate unions — and all have contracts that expire June 30.

There is language in the BCEA contract stipulating that no step increases would be given without a successful annual evaluation. Employees with 10 years on the job could be eligible for a 1 percent “additional monthly incentive” if they receive a “successful” performance evaluation.

Workers who reach the 15-year mark could earn a 2 percent incentive beginning in July 2014.

Other major changes include reducing the amount of compensatory time that an employee could accrue to 60 hours and emphasizing that accumulated vacation time not used in two months would be cashed out at half its initial value.

The BCEA’s current five-year contract included annual pay raises that ranged between two percent and four percent, depending on the federal consumer price index level each year.

City officials and association members began discussing the contract this past December, Kee said.

Contract discussions are continuing with the city’s other two bargaining units: the Baker City Professional Firefighters Union and Baker City Police Association.  

The city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, will come to the councilors for adoption on June 25.

TSP public hearing

There also will be a public hearing about the proposed Transportation System Plan during Tuesday’s meeting.

Members of the Planning Commission approved the plan Wednesday.

Their major recommendations for modifying the document include removing the proposals for a trail along Smith Ditch and omitting the studies for possible reconfiguration of traffic lanes on sections of Broadway and 10th streets.

It was determined that Smith Ditch would be problematic for use as a trail because of the modifications made to minimize future flood damage to the area. And instead of reducing the number of lanes on 10th Street from four to three they suggested that sidewalk be added or improved along 10th from Broadway to Hughes Lane-Pocahontas Road.

Also on the agenda:

• More discussion about the neighborhood project grants that would improve livability, Ordinance No. 3320.

• Possible approval of Ordinance No. 3701, which would allow the city to continue collecting the Sidewalk Utility Fee of $1 per month for homeowners and $2 per month for businesses.