Little Falls Council approves labor contracts with employee unions

By Liz Verley, Staff Writer 

The Little Falls City Council authorized the execution of three labor agreements at Monday’s meeting. The three contracts are for a two-year period.

Contracts that were approved were with the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE); Law Enforcement Labor Services, Local 68 (LELS); and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 2564 (AFSCME).

MAPE represents the supervisory employees of the city, LELS represents law enforcement and AFSCME represents the non-supervisory employees of the city not covered by the police or public works labor agreements.

All three former agreements had expired Dec. 31, 2011.

All three agreements will allow a 1.5 percent salary increase effective July 1, a 2 percent salary increase effective Jan. 1, 2013.

The MAPE agreement allows step increases in 2012 (effective Jan. 1 and for 2013 on the employees’ anniversary dates. New hires after Jan. 1, 2013 will have the same insurance language as the current LELS and IUOE 49ers contracts. The motion to approve the MAPE agreement carried unanimously.

New employees will be paying more toward their share of the insurance then present employees do.

The AFSCME and LELS agreements had the same salary, step and insurance language as MAPE but the motions to approve those two contracts passed on a 7 – 1 vote with Councilman Brian Paul Crowder voting no.

Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem said, “Our employees have lived with a hard freeze for three years. We could not expect them to do that forever. I think this was a fair agreement.”

Crowder said, after the meeting had adjourned, it was very hard to justify those increases when so many constituents were unemployed or laid off.

Little Falls City Council Briefs

In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:

• Accepted the Animal Control, Central Minnesota Access, Heritage Preservation Commission, Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Public Works Department reports;

Authorized the hiring of Traut Wells, St. Cloud, to include the rehabilitation and repairs for Well 7, at a cost not to exceed $38,000. The cost of the project will be charged to the Water Improvement Fund;

• Adopted a resolution expressing its approval and support for the development of the Mississippi River Trail United States Bike Route 45. The resolution also authorizes the public works director to represent the city in ongoing collaborative discussions and in matters of general nature regarding the operation and location of the Mississippi River trail within its boundaries and jurisdiction;

• Called for public hearing on the final assessment roll for the Third Avenue Southeast improvement project. The hearing will be held Sept. 17 at 7:30 p. m. in the council chambers at city hall; and • Adopted a resolution authorizing the execution of a grant agreement and accepting grant funds from the Laura Jane Musser Fund. Two grants of $1,000 each will go to the Little Falls Police Department and the Youth Task Force.