State steps into union dispute
LAKE ANDES — State officials agree with the Randall Community Water District on 24 of 28 points of dispute between the district and a union recently formed by district employees.
Nine employees of the water district, headquartered in Lake Andes, have claimed favoritism, health insurance and other issues led them to unionize. They joined the Communication Workers of America, a union that represents public service employees and others.
The group gained union status in August 2012 and has been trying to negotiate a contract since then. No contract agreement has been reached, which is why the dispute went to state regulators.
The resulting state report is a non-binding document.
“They’re free to accept, reject or ignore it,” said James Marsh, director of the state Division of Labor and Management. “They can pretty much do whatever they wish. We hope they use it as a foundation to set out for a basis to reach a compromise.”
Marsh compiled the information and developed the report in about 10 days. Prior to that, an administrative judge performed mediation between the union and water district. Marsh said they first did a joint mediation session and then split up to attempt to work on a settlement.
In late October, the Department of Labor and Regulation issued its recommendations on 28 unresolved issues between the union and the district.
Of the 28 issues presented, the DLR agreed with four union proposals — that there should be two labor/management meetings per year; payroll deduction of union dues should be allowed; claims of breach of contract against the district should not be limited to the scope proposed by the district; and that the duration of union contract agreements be 18 months.