In a protracted dispute that has been ongoing since October 2022, the arbitration between Grant County and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2516 has hit a roadblock, with five crucial articles, including Overtime, Holidays, Disciplinary Action, Wages, and Terms of Agreement, yet to be decided. Multiple attempts in the past 3 years have been made to complete negotiations with Grant County, however each attempt was denied due to lack of participation by Grant County manager(s) that were in office at the time.

Negotiations between Grant County and AFSCME have been marked by tension and many rescheduled negotiation sessions, ultimately leading to an impasse in August 2023. In a bid to break the deadlock, a mediator was brought in. Unfortunately, the mediation process failed to yield a resolution, leading to the selection of an arbitrator in October 2023.

The arbitrator, having been chosen, proffered dates for a hearing scheduled for the month of December 2023. These dates also came with the option to have an arbitration hearing in person or have a remote hearing to expedite the process. However, Grant County has thrown a spanner in the works by refusing to agree to any of the proposed dates, expressing a desire to extend the arbitration hearing until February 2024. The Union currently stands against this, citing that both parties and the selected arbitrator have a legal obligation to conduct the arbitration hearing within 30 days of the arbitrator's selection (Public Employee Labor Relations Board 10-7E-18).

During recent public Commissioner meetings, Grant County unilaterally approved the holiday of Juneteenth and a new pay scale, but for non-bargaining contract employees only. Only new hires and managerial employees received the paid holiday off and have been given raises based on the newly implemented pay scale. AFSCME Local 2516 sought to have these benefits extended to all county employees but was met with resistance. Grant County, instead of addressing the concerns separately, proposed bundling them into their version of a final contract. Bargaining contract employees encompass most of the workforce at Grant County, including employees from the following departments: airport, assessor's office, clerk's office, detention center, maintenance, road department, sheriff's office and treasurer's office,

AFSCME Local 2516 remains steadfast in its commitment to securing a fair and equitable contract that addresses the concerns of all its members. It is their goal to complete this arbitration as fast as possible, allowing the bargaining contract employees of Grant County to receive their well-earned and needed pay raise along with the benefits that come with the finalization of the Bargaining Contract. In a recent study conducted by Grant County, most employee positions were found to be underpaid. Bargaining contract employees are patiently waiting for Grant County to respond in an effort to complete the arbitration hearing. Other counties and municipalities around the area are continuing to offer competitive wages while Grant County is only offering the new pay scale those not listed as bargaining contract employees.

The upcoming hearing, whenever it takes place, is anticipated to be a pivotal moment in determining the terms that will govern the relationship between Grant County and its workforce. The extended waiting period requested by Grant County has added another layer of uncertainty to an already complex and protracted negotiation process.

~AFSCME Local 2516~

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