Franklin County is currently negotiating a new contract with the highway department’s union, officials say.
Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said she has not seen any hang-ups in the negotiations so far with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 148.
“Right now, I don’t see anything indicating arbitration,” Gadcke said, adding that the county will just have to see how the “conversation” continues.
The negotiations have been going on for about a month, according to Gadcke, who is not a union member.
However, she would not discuss specifics of the negotiations, saying that would not be fair to either side.
The current contract is for three years, and it expires Dec. 31.
The length of the next contract will be one of the issues negotiated, Gadcke said.
Under the current contract, the highway department union members get raises when regular county employees get increases, Gadcke said.
However, Gadcke said union members are entitled to increases in pay after they serve a certain amount of time.
The first step in pay comes after three years on the job; the second after five years; the third, seven years; and the final step, after nine years.
On average, each step is about 50 cents an hour, but the amount can vary a little for different job classifications, Gadcke noted.
Highway department employees have a choice of being a union member or a fair share member. A fair share member means they have reduced union fees, but no seniority. They still get the benefits of union membership such as the step in pay after years of service, Gadcke said.
There are 52 highway department union members, and they are non-administrative employees.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said County Counselor Mark Vincent has been attending the union negotiation meetings.
Gadcke, Vincent, Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz and County Engineer Joe Feldmann are on the county’s negotiating team.
Griesheimer said he has heard that the talks are going well, adding that he thinks the new contract should pretty much be a continuation of the current agreement.
Patrick Lynch with the International Union of Operating Engineers in St. Louis is the business representative assigned to the highway department union. Lynch said he could not comment on the negotiations.
Likewise, Lynch would only say that the union is “following the procedure” over a separate matter involving a fired highway department employee.
The employee, Robert Ahrens, told The Missourian in July that he filed a grievance against Gadcke for wrongful termination.
Vincent has declined comment on that matter, saying he cannot discuss personnel matters.
Ahrens, who was an asphalt crew lead man, said he was a county employee for 20 years before Gadcke fired him June 26.
He told The Missourian in July that he wanted his job back.