The hotly contested proposal to repeal collective bargaining for city employees won’t land before the City Council on April 7.
The issue has been pushed back to the council’s April 21 meeting, City Administrator Ken Thompson said. That will give the council more time to hear testimony on the issue.
There are three other issues scheduled for public hearings at the City Council’s April 7 meeting. Those hearings cannot easily be rescheduled, Thompson said.
In addition, the council believes it would be better to have the collective bargaining hearing in a room with more seating capacity than the City Council chambers.
The Lake City Employees Association, one of three unions representing city workers, says it welcomes the delay.
“We felt probably we needed a little more time,” said Paula Payne, president of Lake City Employees.
Mayor Steve Judy and the City Council notified city workers about two weeks ago that they were considering repealing the ordinance that established collective bargaining 15 years ago. That would end collective bargaining for the Lake City Employees and for the members of the Coeur d’Alene Police Officers Association.
State law mandates collective bargaining for firefighters.
A City Council subcommittee meeting Monday drew more than 100 workers, all opposed to the repeal. In the end, the General Services Committee recommended the full City Council appoint a committee to consider restructuring the ordinance.
The committee, consisting of Council members Ron Edinger, Chris Copstead and Sue Servick, told the crowd it wasn’t committed to dissolving collective bargaining. But because the ordinance isn’t binding, “what’s the point?” Copstead asked, indicating one answer might be strengthening the law, not getting rid of it.
City workers pointed out that everything from a city memo to the Monday meeting agenda talked in terms of a repeal, leading them to fear the worst.
The City Council could agree to appoint a committee, make no changes or proceed with abolishing collective bargaining. City workers are expected in force April 21 to make a case against anything but strengthening the ordinance to make collective bargaining binding.
“This is a tough issue for us,” Payne said. “We are hoping that since the committee recommended a review, that’s what the council will do.
“If this ordinance is repealed and if they can choose to reduce our wages and benefits, where’s the tax savings to the citizen?”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEXT The City Council will discuss collective bargaining for city employees on April 21. Because city employees are expected to turn out in force, the meeting will be moved to a room with more seating capacity than council chambers.
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