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Faribault County approves contracts

BLUE EARTH– The Faribault County Board of Commissioners approved four union contracts during their regular board meeting on Tuesday.

All four of the bargaining unit contracts expired on Dec. 31, 2021. Negotiations between the unions and the Central Services director and the Personnel Committee began in September of last year and tentative agreements were reached with each bargaining unit in February and March.

Contracts with the LELS (Law Enforcement Labor Services), IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers), MNPEA (Minnesota Public Employes Association) and AFSCME (American Federation of State and County Employees) all passed on a 3-2 vote.

All of the contracts were for three years and include a five percent pay increase for 2022 along with three percent increases in pay for both 2023 and 2024.

The contracts will also recognize Juneteenth as a holiday as soon as the state of Minnesota recognizes it as a legal holiday.

Commissioners John Roper and Bruce Anderson voted in favor of the contracts while commissioners Tom Loveall and Bill Groskreutz cast nay votes. Chairman Greg Young broke the tie on all four contracts and voted to approve them.

The point of contention in the contracts for commissioners Loveall and Groskreutz was over language governing the payment of health insurance premiums. Under the new contracts, the county will absorb any and all health insurance premium increases through 2024.

“I am opposed to open-ended increases,” Loveall explained. “The county is being left open to absorb the increase no matter the amount.”

While understanding Loveall s position, commissioner Bruce Anderson said he felt there were other factors to consider.

“We have 14 open positions in the county,” Anderson commented. “Health insurance is one of the biggest problems in hiring people.”

The County Board also passed a one-year contract for non-union employees with a wage and benefit increase of five percent.

This time Groskreutz joined Roper, Anderson and Young in voting to approve the contract.

“Our non-union employees need to be treated the same as the union employees,” Groskreutz explained.

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