After extended friction over wage settlements last year, the City Council approved more generous raises this year and got quick agreement along the way for a three-year contract for the bulk of city employees.
"The city prefers to have multiyear agreements because you don't have to spend all the time negotiating," said City Administrator John Dangleis. "You can get the work done."
The wage agreement approved last week by the City Council provides 5% wage increases for most city emploees, and 4% increases in the second and final years of the contract. Local 809 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees approved the agreement.
Last year, when the council wanted to hold raises to 2.5%, angry employees picketed City Hall and sheriff's deputies videotaped the pickets--a move cited in a complaint against the city and the county as violating the pickets' First Amendment rights of free speech. When the two sides were unable to reach agreement after six months of negotiations, a state mediator was called in.