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March 29, 2011


CIR rules in favor of city

by Deena Winter

The Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations has ruled in the case a Lincoln city employee union brought over benefits.

The union is the Public Association of Government Employees, or PAGE, which represents about 500 city employees, most of them blue collar and technical workers. Although they originally went to the CIR over the mayor’s pressure on them to lower retirement benefits for new employees, ultimately that issue did not go before the CIR.

The union’s attorney, Gary Young, told me in January that city officials realized they couldn’t force the union to agree to the lower retirement benefit via the CIR.

“If you’re the 800-pound gorilla and you can force people to do things because a union doesn’t want to go to the CIR, then you can bully your way into doing things that you’re not entitled to. PAGE wasn’t going to allow the mayor to bully them,” Young said of the Beutler administration back in . “There’s nothing they (the other unions) can do about it now.”

The CIR took up three issues: dental benefits, who decides when overtime begins in the pay cycle and whether the city should offer employees a defined benefit pension plan, rather than just the defined contribution plan.

The CIR ruled in the city’s favor on all three counts:

• The CIR ruled that dental benefits should stay the same (meaning the city will continue to provide employer-paid dental insurance at its current rate of 50 percent for family and single coverage).

• The CIR ruled in the city’s favor on the defined benefit issue, saying the issue extends beyond the reach of the one-year period over which the CIR has jurisdiction, saying, “the Commission lacks jurisdiction to order structural changes to pension plans.”

• The CIR ruled that overtime is a “management prerogative” and said it lacks jurisdiction to change the city’s method of calculating when overtime begins during a work cycle.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jane H Kinsey
    Mar 29 2011

    This interesting because the City Council and Mayor have stated, when I asked about it, that they can’t do anything because of the “Bully” Cir which will overrule them if unions go to the higher resource. They claim it will cost a lot of money to make a case and the odds are not good for a win. What are these lawyers who work for the City doing if they can’t work with laws.
    I think it is an excuse because they Council doesn’t want to confront the high level staff and department heads. I told them so last night.

  2. in the real
    Mar 29 2011

    Thanks Deena your on top of things


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