City rejects bargaining agreement, charged with unfair labor practice

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

After an executive session that lasted nearly an hour Monday, March 16, 2009, the Aledo City Council reconvened and made a motion to not accept an agreement between International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 (the police union) and the city. A collective bargaining agreement has been under negotiation since Nov. 28, 2007.

Anna Dowd, assistant city clerk, said the council reconvened at 9:15 p.m. and Alderman Robert Rillie, Ward 1, made a motion to not accept the collective bargaining agreement. Doyce Hiscock, Ward 2, seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to not accept the contract, with "yes" votes from Aldermen Rillie and Chris Hagloch, Ward 1; Doyce Hiscocks, Ward 2; Rich Maynard and Mike Frye, Ward 3 and Randy Mattson, Ward 4. Absent and excused from the meeting were Aldermen Marc Dicklin, Ward 2 and Dale Jones, Ward 4.

Mayor Celske was not at Monday's meeting.

The Union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the city with the Illinois Labor Relations Board in Springfield, dated Tuesday, March 17. Attorney for the union Kenneth E. Edwards sent a copy of the charge against the employer to Mark D. Walton, Aledo City Attorney, via first class mail before 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Local 150 was certified as the exclusive bargaining agent for all full-time police officers employed by the city on Nov. 28, 2007. Negotiating for the union are union attorney Ken Edwards and Troy Russell, union business agent.

The union charges that city's bargaining team, which consisted of the city attorney, Mayor Celske, former City Administrator Patrick Burelle and Police Chief Mike Sponsler had the authority to bargain over all mandatory subjects of bargaining and keep the city council advised of the progress and seek its direction. "A logical extension of this duty on negotiators requires each representative to affirmatively support any tentative agreement reached between the negotiating teams."

The union brought a tentative agreement to the council on Nov. 14, 2008, which was rejected by the city council. On Dec. 22, 2008, the city instead made counterproposals that were counterproductive, according the document filed with the Labor Relations Board.  The union alleges that the counterproposals, "many of which were regressive and included items the City knew or should have known were anathema to the Union."

The two teams again met on March 4, 2009 to attempt to resolve the matter, with Edwards and Russell present for the union and Walton, Celske and Sponsler there for the city.

"The union specifically stated that it was attempting to settle the matter between the parties and was not waiving any rights it had," the charge stated.

At that meeting an agreement was again reached, which was brought before the council on Monday.

The council went into closed session at 8:15 p.m. to discuss a collective bargaining agreement and possible or pending litigation.

Mayor Celske was out of town in Washington D.C., according to Dowd. After the vote, the council 9:17 p.m.

The charge further states that good faith negotiations were not being made by the city.

The union is seeking the remedy of having the labor relations board find the city in violation of the collective bargaining act and be ordered to cease and desist; to post notices and read them to the bargaining unit members and to sign and uphold the original agreement dated Nov. 14, 2008.

In Novermber 2008 Patrick Burelle, Aledo city administrator, said that the city has arrived at a tentative agreement with the police union. Talks began in February 2008 and there were seven sessions held. "As of right now the union affects five patrolmen. The union has petitioned the Illinois Department of Labor to include the sergeant position in the union as well," said Burelle.

He said the city's position is that management does not belong in the same union.