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WAVERLY -- The implications of a state law gutting protections for union employees have come to roost in Waverly.

The Waverly City Council planned to discuss the employee handbook for city employees, 31 of whom are covered under a collective bargaining agreement, and the addition of several items to that handbook previously covered under collective bargaining.

It's something other city councils, school boards and government entities with union employees have done around the state since then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed House File 291 into law in February 2017. The law scaled back items previously included in collective bargaining, allowing public entities to remove nearly everything but wages from bargaining, and limiting how pay can be negotiated.

That's translated to governments moving things like vacation time, overtime pay and performance evaluations to employee handbooks, which can be changed without discussion with employees, said Rich Kurtenbach, business representative for IBEW Local 288, which covers Waverly city employees.

"Now, since House File 291 was passed, the city administrator is looking to take those things from collective bargaining. They're picking and choosing certain things and putting them in the handbook," Kurtenbach said.

Public documents show the draft handbook changes have included things like grievance procedures, seniority, discipline and discharge, overtime, work schedules, job posting, merit bonuses, sick leave, vacation time and job-incurred injury policies, all of which were previously subject to bargaining.

Waverly City Administrator James Bronner declined to go into specifics about changes to the handbook, which the City Council planned to discuss Monday night.

"A lot of this is still closed-session work," Bronner said Monday. "The handbook does not address union employees -- it addresses all employees."

Kurtenbach said that's the problem.

"These are items that have been negotiated through the years," he said. "With our Waverly group, they've actually given up money on the check for these benefits. Now it's going to be taken away."

He termed the negotiations earlier this year "a take-it-or-leave-it scenario."

"In the past, it's been a give-and-take process. Now, it's just the city taking stuff away," Kurtenbach said.

Union employees held a press conference Monday prior to tonight's 7 p.m. city council meeting to call on city council members to rethink the changes.

"We believe they care and these are good people, but now it's coming across they haven't done the research, or they've been misled," Kurtenbach said. "We are asking them to consider another proposal that would keep (Local 288 members) in the collective bargaining agreement."


Multimedia Reporter

Multimedia Reporter at The Courier

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