HOISINGTON — The Hoisington City Council Monday night chose not to renew a contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 304, which as been effective since Sept. 14, 1942.
The decision was made following a series of three executive session in which the governing body, the city manager, and the city attorney were present for the discussion of confidential matters related to the union contract pursuant to the employer and employee relations exemption of Kansas Open Meetings Act. The council unanimously agreed it will terminate the agreement effective this year, and authorized City Manager Jonathan Mitchell to send a letter to inform the union.
Mitchell was admittedly surprised at the action. He met with staff members Tuesday morning to share the council’s decision. There was some concern, he said, because the agreement has been in place for 75 years. For some, it offered some sense of security because it was renewed every three years, staffers felt there was something they could count on beyond the annual election.
Mitchell said at the heart of the matter was the question, “How do the taxpayers benefit by having a union in place for their staff?”
It was determined that since the council has historically provided the same benefits to all staff as union members, there was no great benefit to taxpayers, and so was not in the best interest of citizens.
“The governing body feels their job is to always do what is best for the taxpayers,” Mitchell said. He noted that the proposed contract did not contain anything that was inconsistent with past negotiations, and that overall, there has been a healthy relationship between the union and the city in the past. “This is simply a change in approach.”
While it is a major change, Mitchell said there are no plans to slash pay or benefits to any staff members.
“We can count on the governing body to continue to treat staff fairly as we always have,” he said.