The Wrangell Borough Assembly has rejected a key part of a proposed contract with municipal employees.
That’s after hearing the case for a full settlement from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents about 25 borough staffers.
At a June 8 special meeting, assembly members unanimously approved two of three parts of the contract. Those cover health benefits and changes to a wage table that sets pay for new and advancing employees.
Union representative Serena Green said workers agreed to pick up 15 percent of insurance costs, which is an increase. But she said it needs to be matched with a $2.50/hour, across-the-board raise.
“This is designed to keep things in balance. It’s balancing the cost of the insurance that the employees are going to be experiencing, so they don’t experience a significant wage loss. Essentially it makes the employees whole,” she said.
The assembly met in a closed-door executive session to discuss the union’s most recent contract proposal.
Afterward, Vice Mayor Stephen Prysunka moved to accept the insurance and wage-table proposals. But his motion excluded the across-the-board increase.
“This was really a difficult thing for us to do and it was difficult on a couple of different levels. But we respect all of our city employees and we know that folks work really hard to keep our community moving forward. And we are hopeful that working together we can reach an agreement to finish this off,” he said.
His motion asked for continuing talks between the borough and the union. It passed without objection.
The previous contract expired several years ago. Talks have been going on since then, with employees working under terms of the old contract.
The union’s Green said it’s not asking for a retroactive pay increase, though that’s a common contract term.