, Muskogee, OK

November 9, 2012

Council should back union

— Muskogee city councilors should make nice with the non-uniform employees union before the collective bargaining process blows up in citizens’ faces.

The 2011 council voted to let a collective bargaining agreement with the union of non-uniform employees expire in 2011.

The council took the action because it was no longer required by law to recognize the union.

Being able to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.

The 2011 council changed its mind and allowed the union to reorganize. However, the terms by which the 2011 council would allow the union to reorganize were odorous. The 2012 council made it easier for the union to reform.

However, the negotiating process has begun at square one with a union that has been around for decades. The negotiating process also ignores a 2004 memorandum of understanding regarding the distribution of receipts from a voter-approved sales tax increase.

The council should tell city management to start negotiations from where the last contract ended.

The council should tell city management to agree to terms of the disputed memorandum of understanding.

If the city continues to try to negotiate a contract from scratch, why did the council bother to allow the union to reorganize?

Negotiations with the non-uniform employees have been less contentious than the police and firefighters — at least, recently.

The council should take a stand now before the negotiations become a complete kerfuffle.