“The dispute is not over what is being offered, it’s about what is being taken away,” Weeks said Friday, claiming that the city has attempted to add language into a tentative agreement which would “take more benefits away from the employees.”
Issues include a discrepancy in what qualifies as overtime, Weeks said, as well as the city’s alleged refusal to consider a new insurance benefits plan for the union employees.
“If we use comp time, which is paid time (off), to go to a doctor’s office for a couple of hours and come back to work after, and if we then have to work on Saturday, (the city) wants two of those Saturday hours to be straight-time instead of overtime pay to make up for the time spent at the doctor,” Weeks said.
Weeks also clarified that the request for a 24.05% wage increase in the first year of the agreement would apply to only three or four of the union’s represented employees.
“(The 24.05% increase) was requested in order to catch these employees up from a low rate of pay,” he said. “They’re losing employees, so this is to catch up the lower end to where they won’t keep quitting.”
Weeks claimed the street department in particular has had an increased turnover rate within recent months, and said increasing wages may offset this.
Vandalia administrators said they have developed a contingency plan for the continuation of services in the event of a strike, including utilities and trash collection.